Dante Giannuzzi returned to the Pistons net and stopped all 21 shots he faced for his first MJHL shutout as Steinbach defeated the Neepawa Natives 5-0 Wednesday night.
It was also the first shutout of the year for the Pistons, who lead the league with only 78 goals against this season.
Carter Loney also made an impact in his first game back from the World Junior A Challenge with a goal and an assist on the night. Rylan Bettens and Codey Behun both had two points on the night as well.
It was a slow start to the game as both teams felt each other out in the first 10 minutes. Loney got on the score sheet right away as the Pistons were on a penalty kill, as he busted away from a Neepawa defender and roofed the puck over the glove of goalie Michael Davis for a 1-0 lead with 7:51 remaining in the first.
Steinbach doubled their lead three minutes later by showcasing some solid puck control. It ended with Declan Graham slap passing the puck in front to Codey Behun, and he deflected it past Davis for a 2-0 lead. Bettens had the extra assist on Behun’s 14th on the campaign.
Giannuzzi was called upon a lot in the first period as Neepawa outshot Steinbach 11-10 in the first period, but the Pistons rookie stood tall in goal and turned the Natives away at every turn.
After a second period where not much happened, Steinbach ratcheted up the pressure in the third period and scored three more times in the final frame.
Neepawa defender Rhys Bremner lost the puck in his own zone, and the loose disc found the tape of Bettens. The 19-year-old wasted no time and snapped the puck through Davis for his 9th of the season, giving his team a 3-0 advantage with 11:16 remaining.
Tanner Mole would net Steinbach’s fourth goal of the game with 2:17 left in the game, as he took a pass from Behun and stuffed the puck past Davis in tight for his 7th of the season.
Ty Naaykens would equal Behun’s goal with a 14th goal of his own by finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with Loney to give the Pistons their 5-0 scoreline with 49 seconds left. Dylan Cassie would add the bonus helper on the play.
Before the two goals, Bremner would drop the gloves with Caydin Cleland in an entertaining tilt. In the end it would result in two points for the road team, who maintain their three-point edge over the Portage Terriers and Swan Valley Stampeders for first place in the MJHL standings.
Both teams didn’t connect on their two power play chances they had.
UP NEXT: The Pistons will meet the Winkler Flyers in Winkler to cap off their four-game road trip on Friday night before finishing off their pre-Christmas schedule on Saturday night against the Winnipeg Blues. Catch the game versus the Flyers on HockeyTV or on your radio at MIX 96.7 FM.