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Zach Purcell celebrates with his teammates on the game-winner.

Late Goal Helps Pistons Grab Sole Possession of First

Zach Purcell scored with 2:27 left in the final frame as the Steinbach Pistons avoided a third period collapse to grab a 4-3 win over the Waywayseecappo Wolverines Sunday night at the TG Smith Centre.

With the win Steinbach is now in sole possession of first place in the MJHL standings, as they are now two points ahead of the Winkler Flyers with two games in hand.

Matt Lenz got his MJHL leading 15th win of the season with 27 saves in the process. Wolverines starter Thomson Phinney was tagged with the loss as he stopped 31 of 35 Pistons shots.

It was a bit of slow start to the contest through the first eight minutes, but Steinbach put the pedal to the medal on a double minor high-sticking penalty by Wayway’s Reagan Rabbit. Carter Loney worked in from the right wing and snapped a shot high that Phinney had no chance on, exploding his water bottle in the process. Caydin Cleland would net the lone helper on Loney’s 9th of the season for a 1-0 Pistons lead 9:50 into the game.

Steinbach would double their lead shortly after on a beautiful pass from Bryce Young, as he spun around and backhanded the puck out front to Ty Naaykens who made no mistake. Loney would get the extra helper on Naaykens’ 7th of the season with four and a half to go.

There were some fireworks near the four minute mark of the second period, as Anthony Bilka and David Queree dropped the gloves at centre ice after Bilka laid out Troy Beauchemin at centre ice.

Wayway started to come on in the second period, but it was the Matt Lenz show as he turned aside all 11 Wolverine shots in the frame to keep the game at 2-0.

Kyle Bettens would extend the lead to 3-0 near the four-minute mark of the third period, as he took a beauty centering pass from Codey Behun and rifled the puck into the back of the net. Cleland notched his second apple on the night on Bettens’ 10th goal of the season.

But Steinbach was in the midst of some penalty problems and couldn’t generate much momentum, taking five consecutive minor penalties to end the game. Wayway got their first in the frame on a nice goal from Gerrik Ripley with under 13 minutes to play.

The Wolverines would cut the lead to one on a power play as Rayman Bassi manoeuvred in tight and beat Lenz in front with halfway through the third period. Then after a Beauchemin tripping penalty put the Wolverines once again on the man advantage, they stunned the TG Smith Centre crowd as Jaymes Knee buried a rebound in front to tie it up with 2:46 left to play.

The game was almost certainly headed for extra time, but Zach Purcell had other ideas. Bettens found him in the slot in the Wayway zone, and 19 seconds after Wayway tied it, Purcell’s shot beat Phinney to the glove side. Codey Behun would net his second assist on Purcell’s 9th on the campaign.

The goal sparked the Pistons, who never gave the Wolverines a sniff at the goal and skated away with two important points and their third win over Wayway this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The special teams stats are exactly the same as last night’s win over Dauphin. Steinbach went 1 for 2 on the power play while the Wolverines went 2 for 6.

UP NEXT: The Pistons hit the road for a big three games in three days trip starting on Thursday night, as they start it off against the Virden Oil Caps at 7:30 pm. Catch the game live on HockeyTV or on your radio at MIX 96 with Dave Anthony on the call.