As we count down the days to the 2020 MJHL Bantam Draft this Sunday at 9:00 am, we’ve decided to flash you back to a couple of very important drafts in Pistons history, and to see how they’ve shaped the Pistons franchise over the past couple of winning seasons.
First up: The 2015 MJHL Draft
One could argue that the Pistons draftees from the 2015 MJHL Draft was the best overall class in team history. Steinbach had eight total picks in that year’s draft, with four of those coming in the third round. Out of this entire group, five have played at least a season in blue and white, and one particular player selected can be categorized as a downright steal.
Here is the full draft class of 2015 for the Steinbach Pistons:
1st Round, 10th overall – F Michael King (Winnipeg Sharks Bantam AAA)
The Pistons selected Michael King from the Winnipeg Sharks, as the left-handed centre had 11 goals and 21 points in 28 games during his draft year.
After one season in U-18 hockey King has played the past four seasons in the WHL, spending his first two years with the Kootenay ICE (now in Winnipeg) and his past two seasons with the Spokane Chiefs. He has totalled 26 goals and 61 points over the course of 251 games in his WHL career.
2nd Round, 21st overall – F Isaiah Cockerill (Winnipeg Warriors Bantam AAA)
Steinbach used their second-round selection on another forward, right-handed shooting Isaiah Cockerill. He tallied 10 goals and 5 assists with the Warriors in his draft year.
Cockerill played one season of U-17 hockey in 2015-16 and has also played one season of junior ‘B’ hockey in 2018-19, but never dressed in a game for the Pistons.
3rd Round, 25th overall – F Troy Beauchemin (Eastman Selects Bantam AAA)
Troy Beauchemin was the Pistons’ first of 4 third-round picks in 2015. Beauchemin put up 11 goals and 8 assists in 31 games played with Eastman when he was drafted.
The Ile Des Chenes native worked his way onto the Pistons in 2018 and has played a critical checking role for Steinbach the past two seasons. In his rookie year Beauchemin scored 4 goals and 12 points in 55 games played, and in 2019-20 notched 5 goals and 13 points in 49 games played.
He was excellent during the 2019 MJHL playoffs with 1 goal and 5 points in 12 postseason games, and routinely came up big on the penalty kill for Steinbach. Beauchemin is eligible to return to play his 20-year-old season next year.
3rd Round, 27th overall – G Matthew Thiessen (Pembina Valley Hawks Bantam AAA)
Talk about a steal, as Thiessen was the first goalie picked in the draft that year from the Pembina Valley Hawks.
He made his way onto the Pistons as a 17-year-old in 2017-18 and had a dream season. He went 28-3-2 in 34 games played during the regular season, and was the starting goalie that helped the Pistons capture the 2018 Turnbull and ANAVET Cup with a 1.58 GAA and a .944 SV%. Honours for the Altona native included a spot on the MJHL First All-Star Team and the MJHL All-Rookie Team, plus he was a finalist for Top Goaltender and Rookie of the Year.
Thiessen committed to the University of Maine that season and became the first ever NHL draft pick in Pistons history, as he was selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the 7th round during the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
3rd Round, 32nd overall – D Riley Sierhuis (Winnipeg Monarchs Bantam AAA)
The third pick of the third round for the Pistons was used to take stay-at-home defenceman Riley Sierhuis from the Winnipeg Monarchs.
Sierhuis had 1 goal and 8 points during his draft year, but he quit hockey after a year of playing U-17 and U-18 hockey in 2016.
3rd Round, 33rd overall – F Rylan Bettens (Winnipeg Warriors Bantam AAA)
The last pick for Steinbach on the third round was Rylan Bettens from the Winnipeg Warriors. The eldest of the Bettens brother registered 25 goals and 56 points for the Warriors in 2014-15, and produced a point a game in the playoffs (12 points in 12 games)
After three years spent in the WHL, Rylan signed with the Pistons during the 2019 offseason and was named an assistant captain of this past season’s team. He was an all-around dependable player for Steinbach with 15 goals and 26 points in 54 games during the regular season, and led the MJHL in playoff scoring with 6 points in an abbreviated postseason in 2020.
4th Round, 43rd overall – D Curtis Ireland (Brandon Wheat Kings Bantam AAA)
Steinbach’s fourth round selection will be their longest-tenured player next season, as they selected defenceman Curtis Ireland from the Wheat Kings. In his draft year, Ireland registered 2 goals and 8 points in 28 games for his hometown team.
Ireland joined the Pistons roster in the 2017-18 season and was one of three 17-year-old players on that year’s squad, winning both the Turnbull and ANAVET Cup titles as well. The past two seasons become a steady defenceman for Head Coach Paul Dyck, with him scoring 20 points in 2018-19 and 23 points this past season.
Next season, Ireland will be the last player remaining from the 2018 championship team. He’ll also have a shot to become the first player in franchise history to win two league titles.
5th Round, 54th overall – F Travis Penner (Pembina Valley Hawks Bantam AAA)
The last pick in the 2015 MJHL Draft for the Pistons was used on forward Travis Penner from Pembina Valley.
Penner registered 9 goals and 19 points in his draft year, but he has played all of his junior hockey in junior ‘B’ with the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s Pembina Valley Twisters out of Morris.
AUTO PROTECTS: D Burke Heide and D Jack Lenchyshyn (Eastman Selects Bantam AAA)
The Pistons also auto-protected Steinbach natives Burke Heide and Jack Lenchyshyn to complete their 2015 draft class.
Heide scored 2 goals and 9 points with the Selects in his draft year. He played four games with the Pistons in 2018-19 as he split time with Steinbach and the Transcona Railer Express of the MMJHL in his first junior season, and was released by the team that offseason.
Lenchyshyn scored 6 goals and 17 points in 2014-15 with Eastman, and first suited up in blue and white in 2016-17 as he got into five regular season games and seven postseason games as an ‘AP’. He was part of the 2018 Turnbull and ANAVET Cup winning team with 1 goal and 8 points during the regular season, but opted to sign with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks during the 2018 offseason.
You can follow along with the MJHL Draft in real time by logging onto mjhlhockey.ca/draft, and the draft begins at 9:00 am, or you can tune into all Pistons social media outlets during Sunday morning.