Daniel McKitrick potted home the overtime winner as the Steinbach Pistons came back from the Christmas break and picked up their 9th straight win with a 3-2 victory over the Selkirk Steelers.
McKitrick took a pass from captain Braden Purtill and rifled a shot past Steeler goalie Hayden Dola for the win. Dola was fantastic in the Selkirk goal, keeping his team in the game with 51 stops on 54 shots on goal by Steinbach, but he ultimately took the loss. Matthew Thiessen got his 21st start of the season, and improved his MJHL best record to 18-2-0 with 21 saves in the victory.
“It’s tough when your scoring chances aren’t going in, but our team is pretty good at keeping an even keel all season long,” McKitrick said after the game. “We might as well keep playing the same way (like that).”
The first period after the Christmas break was scoreless as both teams felt each other out. Riese Gaber made his much-anticipated Pistons’ debut, and was flying in the period getting two quality scoring chances.
Brady Tatro got the first goal of the game, as he took a breakout pass from Tanner Mole and fired home his 11th of the year from the left face-off dot past Dola to make it 1-0 Pistons 4:24 into the second period. The Steelers quickly answered just 65 seconds later, as Nate Halvorsen put home the loose puck on a scramble in front of Thiessen. Halvorsen scored his first of two on the night, with the assists on the first goal going to Connor Barley and Nico Labossiere.
Tyson McConnell gave the Pistons the lead right back, as he put home his 14th of the year on a rebound off of a Purtill shot on the power play to make it 2-1 with 12 minutes left in the second. Dola and Thiessen traded highlight reel saves during the rest of the second period to keep it 2-1 after 40 minutes.
“You want to compete against (Dola) even though he’s getting a lot of shots against him,” Thiessen said of the battle. “You’ve got to make key saves at key points, and you’ve just got to ready for shots throughout the game.
The Pistons began the third needing to kill of 39 seconds of penalty time, and the Steelers tied it up early as Halvorsen one-timed a shot past the glove of Thiessen. That goal gave Halvorsen his 20th of the season with the assists going to Labossiere and Ryan Gardiner.
The rest of the period was tight, and both teams picked up a point in the standings, with the Pistons picking up the extra point on McKitrick’s winner.
Pistons fans got a glimpse of Riese Gaber’s first game as a member of the Pistons. Gaber was acquired from the Dauphin Kings in early December, and missed the whole month playing for the gold medal winning Team Canada West at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge. He received a loud ovation before the drop of the puck, and played right wing on the top line with Bradley Schoonbaert and Drew Worrad. He put 4 shots on goal, but did not register a point in his Pistons’ debut.
The Pistons went 1 for 5 on the power play, and killed off 1 of 2 penalties on the night.
UP NEXT: These two teams will be back at it tomorrow on New Year’s Eve against the Steelers at the Selkirk Recreational Complex. Puck drop is scheduled for 4:30 pm.