Dylan Cassie, Codey Behun, and Ty Naaykens all suffered heartbreaking losses last year, as they were knocked out by the Steinbach Pistons in the playoffs as members of the Winnipeg Blues. For veterans Cassie and Behun, it’s happened to them the past two seasons dating back to the 2018 MJHL playoffs.
This upcoming season, all three will once again be dawning white and blue colours. This time it’s without the yellow trim, and they’re looking forward to contribute to a team on a mission.
Cassie, Behun, and Naaykens were acquired by Steinbach on Tuesday afternoon in a 10 player, 12-piece deal that sent seven prospects and a draft pick the other way to the Blues.
“I was pretty excited to hear that I was traded to Steinbach,” Cassie said when asked for his reaction. “Especially with knowing how successful they have been winning in past years.”
Naaykens one-upped Cassie, saying he was super excited to join the Pistons. “This is where I wanted to play,” he said. “I was excited just to be joining the team and then I found out Codey and Cass were also coming, and that made me even more excited. Those are two of my best buddies from the Blues, and it’s nice that we can stick together and make that transition together.”
For Behun, he got the call while making breakfast at home that he was being traded. “As I hung up the phone, it took a bit to process but I was so extremely excited to be a part of such a good organization like Steinbach,” he reacted. “I just could not stop thinking about getting the season started after the call.”
In terms of numbers, it’s the largest trade that Head Coach/GM Paul Dyck has ever pulled off. For the new Pistons, they’re hoping their impact will bring Steinbach back to the top of the MJHL standings.
“From playing against the Pistons lots last year, you see that they play with speed, they are physical, and obviously they can score,” the 17-year-old Naaykens said, who had 40 points in 55 games during his rookie season. “I hope to bring some skill and scoring to the lineup alongside some really good players, and also be a forward on the ice that can be physical.”
“Steinbach was always a very hard team to play,” Behun explained. “Both years in the playoffs when we played them, they were long, hard series and it was always a battle. Especially when you knew you were playing in the TG Smith Centre, you knew it was going to be a very hard game as soon as you step on the ice.”
Behun had big-time success against the Pistons a year ago, scoring three goals and two assists in six regular season games against Steinbach in 2018-19. He took it up a notch with two goals and five assists in that six-game series. “I’m looking forward to be playing on the home side this year,” he said. “I think I bring speed and energy to the team, I like to play with a lot of pace each and every shift, someone who can make plays and put the puck in the back of the net, and tries to contribute in every zone of the ice so we can have success and win games.”
Cassie brings a winning attitude and a veteran presence to the Pistons’ back end, putting forward 7 goals and 30 points in his third MJHL season a year ago. When asked about his game, he simply said, “Just contributing all around, playing big minutes, and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Transitioning to a new team can be difficult. But since these two teams have tangled a lot in the past two seasons, and seeing friends and teammates at training camp, all three say the move to Steinbach should be seamless. “I know Max (Neill), and I have grown up with Kyle (Bettens) my entire life,” Naaykens explained. “I have played with him for many years and gone to school with him. So, it’s nice to have great friends that are there.”
Cassie also knows Dyck a little bit, as he played at the MJHL/SJHL Showcase with the Pistons coach behind the bench of his team. “Being coached by Paul at the Showcase in Regina is a big help,” the 20-year-old Winnipeg native added. “Right now, I’m just looking forward to getting things going in Steinbach.”
Some returning Pistons players have already welcomed them to the team. “I’ve had a few of the players reaching out by text already, and being very welcoming,” Naaykens said. “It’s very exciting, and I can tell it’s a great group.”
“It made me feel very welcomed to the team,” Behun added. “I’m looking forward to playing with all the boys, excited to make new friends, and to play with such a great organization.”