Captain Tyson McConnell scored his career-high 20th goal late in the second period, and it proved to the game-winner as the Steinbach Pistons snapped their mini three-game losing skid with a 3-1 win over the Selkirk Steelers Saturday night to close out the 2018-19 regular season.
Matt Radomsky made 28 saves in his final regular season home game at the TG Smith, while Steelers goalie Levi Mitchell made 37 saves in the loss.
There were a lot of Pistons alumni back at the TG Smith Centre, as the Pistons organization honoured those who made their mark on the team. Some were from the original team that stepped foot on the ice in the Pistons’ inaugural season back in 2009-10, and some were from last year’s ANAVET Cup championship team.
As for the game itself, both teams came in underhanded tonight as some of the top players for the Pistons and Steelers were out due to rest or injuries in their final game of the season.
Kyle Bettens got the Pistons on the board first halfway through the first period, as he intercepted a Steelers breakout pass and beat Mitchell five-hole for his tenth goal of the season. It was a dominant period for Steinbach, as they outshot Selkirk 18-9 and led 1-0 after 40 minutes of play.
The second period proved uneventful until under two minutes to go. Tanner Mole made a nice move around a Selkirk defender, and fed McConnell for what looked to be a sure goal. The referee waved his arms, and upon further review McConnell’s shot went off both posts and out, so the game stayed 1-0.
It didn’t matter, as Mole got McConnell the puck right back and the captain snapped home his career high 20th goal past the glove of Mitchell for a 2-0 Pistons lead with 1:18 left in the second period.
The Steelers got within a goal two minutes into the third period on the power play. As Radomsky came out to play the puck, he was clipped by a Steeler forward’s skate and gave the puck away to Blake Burr. Burr pushed the puck over the line and got his team back into the game.
The shorthanded home side dug deep once again to not allow the Steelers to get many quality chances the rest of the game. After a late penalty charged to defenceman Doug Johnson with three minutes to play, the Steelers pulled their goalie halfway through the man advantage with two minutes remaining. The Steinbach penalty-killers executed their set-up perfectly and did not allow a shot in the crucial power play.
Boedey Vaeth sealed the deal for the boys in blue, as his empty-net goal with 1.5 seconds remaining gave the Pistons a 3-1 win. For Vaeth, he finishes with 18 goals on the season and 26 assists for 44 points. That is tied for third on Steinbach with Troy Williams.
It was a special milestone day for Tyson McConnell. Not only did he get his career-high in goals, but he once again showed his endurance and toughness by playing the full 60 games for the third consecutive season.
Defenceman Tristan Culleton also hit the 60 game mark for Steinbach, so congratulations go to those two players for playing all Pistons regular season games.
Defenceman Doug Johnson announced last night that he has committed to Albertus Magnus College of NCAA Division III. Albertus Magnus College, nicknamed the Falcons, is a school near where Johnson in from in New Haven, Conneticut. They are starting up a Division III hockey program next season, so Johnson won’t be far from home when he continues his hockey career next season.
The Dorian, Conneticut native has one goal and eight assists in 30 games with Steinbach after being acquired from the Flin Flon Bombers back on December 1st.
The Pistons went 0 for 2 on the power play, and the Steelers went 1 for 6 on their man advantages.
UP NEXT: Steinbach will host either the Virden Oil Capitals or the Winnipeg Blues in the first round of the MJHL Playoffs which gets underway on Friday night at the TG Smith. Currently, the Oil Caps are one point up on Winnipeg for the fifth spot in the standings. Stay tuned to all Pistons Social Media outlets and Steinbachpistons.ca for the first round schedule and opponent.