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Opportunistic Oil Caps Pounce On Pistons

Hunter Cloutier scored two goals and added an assist as the Virden Oil Capitals defeated the Steinbach Pistons 5-1 Thursday night at Tundra Oil and Gas Place.

The Pistons were the faster team for most of the night but it didn’t translate to the goals column. Kyle Kozma started for the Oil Caps and picked up the win with 33 saves. Matt Lenz’s 11-game win streak was broken as he picked up the loss and stopped 29 of 33 Oil Capital shots.

Steinbach was beginning a 3-in-3 road trip and welcomed back two regulars in the lineup, as captain Declan Graham returned to the blue line for the first time in almost a month after dealing with a lower body injury. Forward Rylan Bettens also was back in the lineup after missing a couple of weeks also with an LBI.

The road trip didn’t get off to a good start as Cloutier scored 1:49 into the game to give Virden a quick lead. The Pistons equalized 10 minutes after that on a rebound goal by the returning Rylan Bettens. Dylan Cassie threw a shot on goal from the right point that Kozma stopped, but the older Bettens bro was there to jam home the loose change in front. Jackson Kobelka picked up the extra assist on Bettens’ 7th of the season.

The Pistons came close to taking the lead on several occasions through the first two periods, but both Kyle Bettens and Bryce Young had their shots ring square off the goal post to remain 1-1.

It was a fast-paced game with hardly any whistles through the first 40 minutes, and the Pistons were dictating that pace. But Steinbach would take their first penalty of the game with 1:30 to go in the middle frame, and Cloutier would make them pay on a hard shot from the left wing to give the Oil Caps the lead with 13.6 seconds to play.

Steinbach got right back to using their speed to create chances, but none of them could beat the goaltender Kozma. Late in the third period, the Oil Caps capitalized on a missed coverage in front by the Pistons and Cloutier fed Jack Einarson in front to salt the game away with 3:32 left in the third.

Kolten Kanaski would add an empty net goal with 1:07 left, and Dylan Halliday beat Lenz with a bardown wrister 30 seconds later to complete the scoring for Virden.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Pistons went 0 for 3 with the man advantage, while the Oil Caps went 1 for 3. Steinbach has now given up a power play goal in their last five games.

UP NEXT: Steinbach heads right back on the bus tomorrow for back-to-back games against the OCN Blizzard, with the first game on Friday night at 7:00 pm. Catch that game on your radio dial at MIX 96.7 with Dave Anthony, or watch it live on HockeyTV.