Evan Kaufman and Rylan Bettens scored 1:01 apart in the third period to lift the Steinbach Pistons past the Neepawa Natives 4-2 Sunday night.
Matt Lenz put in a good night of work as he got the start for the second straight game, and made 33 saves on the night. Natives rookie goalie Dawson Green stopped 17 of 21 Pistons shots in the loss.
Coming off a lackluster performance last night, the Pistons looked to get back on the right foot against the Natives and picked up the first goal once again. Kyle Bettens fed Carter Loney with a nice cross zone pass, and the rookie forward roofed the puck past Green for a 1-0 Steinbach lead. Ty Naaykens nabbed the secondary assist on Loney’s second goal of the season with 2:20 to go.
The Natives outshot the Pistons 16-9 in the first period, and carried play for much of the second period. Neepawa would tie the game at the 4:31 mark on a net front scramble, as Konnor Carlson jammed the puck past Lenz for his first goal of the season. The Natives would take the lead 29 seconds later, as a long distance shot by Rylan Gudnason rode up the stick of a Pistons defender and bounced by Lenz for a 2-1 advantage.
Steinbach would tie it up halfway through the second period, as Codey Behun intercepted a breakout pass and beat Green top glove. Behun nabbed his team-leading 4th goal of the season and gave the Pistons their first shorthanded marker of the 2019/20 campaign.
Being outshot 23-14 after 40 minutes of play, the Pistons needed to flip the script in the and put in a good third period effort. Although Neepawa once again outshot Steinbach in the final period, most of the play was down in the Natives’ end of the ice.
The Pistons would regain the lead with 13 minutes to go as Jack Kilroy fed a pinching Evan Kaufman in the slot, and Kaufman snapped a wrister past Green for a 3-2 lead. Troy Beauchemin had the extra assist on Kaufman’s first goal of the season.
Rylan Bettens would double Steinbach’s lead as he put home a rebound in front for a 4-2 advantage, with Rylan Clemons and Jackson Kobelka picking up the helpers on Bettens’ third goal of the season.
The Natives pulled their goalie with two minutes remaining and put the Pistons under siege in the waning moments. But Lenz stood strong and kept Steinbach on top by two as time expired.
The Pistons went 0 for 4 on the power play and killed off all three man advantages they faced.
UP NEXT: The Pistons will start a three game stretch in four days at the TG Smith Centre this week, beginning with the undefeated Portage Terriers Wednesday night at 7:30 pm. Catch that game live on HockeyTV, and purchase your tickets at Steinbachpistons.ca.