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Captains Graham and Mole Lead Pistons to Fifth Straight W

Assistant captain Tanner Mole scored a goal and an assist while captain Declan Graham notched the game-winning goal as the Steinbach Pistons defeated the Swan Valley Stampeders 5-1 Monday night at the TG Smith Centre.

Matt Lenz was also excellent in goal for the Pistons with 44 saves on the night to pick up his league leading 24th win of the season.  Stampeders goalie Mikael Foucher stopped 40 of 44 Steinbach shots as he was tagged with the loss.

The Pistons were looking to make it a fourth win in a row on this season long five-game stretch at the TG Smith. And they once again took the lead quickly thanks to a couple of early penalties by Swan Valley. While on a 5-on-3 man advantage, Zach Purcell took a pass from Dylan Cassie and beat Foucher to the glove side for a 1-0 Steinbach lead 3:47 into the game. Mole had the other assist on Purcell’s 24th of the season and 12th goal in his past 7 games.

Graham would double the Piston lead to 2-0 halfway through the first period when his shot from the left point squeaked underneath the pads of the Swan netminder. Ty Naaykens and Cassie had the apples on the captain’s 5th of the season; a new career-high for the Toronto native.

Mole would extend Steinbach’s lead to three on another power play, as he cleaned up a rebound off of a Graham point shot and buried the loose puck past Foucher with 1:25 left. Kyle Bettens would notch the bonus assist on Mole’s 11th on the year, which breaks a six-game goal-less drought for the Winnipeg native.

Naaykens would take advantage of a funny bounce off of a Swan defender behind the net, and he caught Foucher looking the other way and deposited the puck into the open net for a 4-0 Steinbach advantage with 7:32 left in the second period. Linemates Kyle Bettens and Ryan Butler would pick up the apples on Naaykens’ 20th of the campaign.

The Stampeders would break their goose egg with 24 seconds left in the frame on a goal by defenceman Danny Griffith, as his shot beat Lenz’s five-hole.

But the Grapevine goalie would bounce back in a big way in the final 20 minutes. Swan Valley outshot the Pistons 18-14 in the third period, and Lenz would stop all 18 his way in another scintillating display of goaltending by the Steinbach netminder.

Ty Naaykens would seal the deal with 26 seconds left in the third with Foucher pulled for the extra attacker. The Steinbach forward blocked a point shot and raced in for the potential empty netter on a breakaway, but he was tripped up on the rush and was still awarded the goal in the process.

That empty netter gave Naaykens his 21st goal on the year and the eventual final score, but the game finished with a bit of fireworks as Kasyn Kruse and Joey Dosan would tussle with a couple of Swan Valley defenceman at the end.

BIGGIE IN THE HOUSE

The Pistons welcomed Blue Bombers linebacker and 2019 Grey Cup champion Adam Bighill to the TG Smith on Monday night. Bighill signed autographs and took pictures with the fans prior to the game, and also performed the ceremonial puck drop as well. Thanks to Adam along with mascots Buzz and Boomer, and the entire Blue Bombers organization for being so accommodating throughout the evening!

SPECIAL TEAMS

Steinbach’s got a bit of their mojo back on the power play, going 2 for 5 on the night and have tallied five goals in their last five games with the man advantage. The Pistons also were a perfect 5 for 5 on the PK.

UP NEXT: The homestand concludes on Wednesday night when the Neepawa Natives come to town for a 7:30 pm puck drop. Get your tickets for that game online at Steinbachpistons.ca.