Article Courtesy of Dave Anthony from Steinbachonline.com
The Steinbach Pistons’ shorthanded unit was 7-7 and Ryan Carlson scored a power play goal midway through the third as the Pistons held on to a 3-2 win over the Neepawa Natives on Sunday evening.
After a lackluster effort in game 1 of the opening round series, the Pistons came out and showed why they were the top-ranked team in the MJHL. In the opening minutes, Steinbach pushed the pace and controlled play 5 on 5.
Then, the penalties started to pile up.
Despite being short-handed, it was the penalty killers that had the best opportunities of the opening frame. Wyatt Hinson and Braden Purtill both had chances while down a man, but the unit as a whole was more than solid, only surrendering one shot in three times short in the first. In the opening period, the Pistons kill off three penalties and Steinbach held the edge in shots 13-5, but the score was 0-0 after 1.
In the second, Hinson was rewarded for his hard work as he snapped off a wrister that found the back of the net, giving Steinbach the lead for the first time in the series 1-0. Jordan Bochinski had the lone helper on the opening marker.
“I was on a 2 on 1, and I stopped up.” Hinson said after the game.”(I was) kinda waiting for my guys to get into the zone and I put it down to Bo, he gave it back, and I just put it in far side.”
The penalty killers were at it again, killing off another three penalties in the period, going 6 for 6 in two periods. The power play had a total of :31 seconds to work with through two periods (the only power play was cut short as Steinbach was penalized right at the end of the first period.)
The Pistons added a second goal in the period and needed every possible second. With just over three seconds on the clock, an offensive zone faceoff was set up by Mack Graham. Bochinski was positioned at the top of the circle, in prime shooting position. Graham won it cleanly, right back to the waiting stick of Bochinski who snapped it over the glove of the Natives goalie with just .3 seconds left on the clock, pushing the lead to 2-0 after 40 minutes.
With their first full power play chance of the game, the Pistons made no mistake cashing in on the eventual game winner. After a Natives rush was turned away by a strong defensive play from Tyler Anderson, Steinbach turned the puck up the ice and broke into the zone. The puck went below the goal line and was eventually fished out by Bradley Schoonbaert who found Carlson in front for a tap-in to make it 3-0 Steinbach.
It looked like Steinbach added another goal moments later as a point shot from Declan Graham was deflected in by Hinson, but the goal was quickly waved off for apparent goaltender interference. The score stayed at 3-0, and the Pistons were assessed a two-minute minor on the play.
That was not the most controversial play of the night. Neepawa finally got on the board with a goal that appeared to be kicked in by a Natives forward but was allowed to stand that cut the lead to 3-1. The Natives pulled their goalie and were able to find the back of the net as a point shot deflected in off a crowd in front to make it 3-2. However, the Pistons buckled down for the final :30 seconds and did not allow another shot on goal, locking down the win to even the series 1-1.
Roman Bengert played well in the win and went through long stretches of not seeing any action. He finished with 20 saves on the night. Steinbach outshot the Natives 38-22. The power play was 1-2, and the penalty kill was nothing short of spectacular going 7-7.
With the series is all evened up with both teams winning on the road. The Pistons will look to keep home ice advantage on Tuesday night for game 3. The game will be on Mix 96 and SteinbachOnline.com with the pre-game show at 7:15 pm and the drop of the puck at 7:30 pm.