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Pistons Defeat Natives, Widen First-Place Lead

Tanner Mole, Max Neill, and Ty Naaykens each had a goal as the Steinbach Pistons defeated the Neepawa Natives 3-1, picking up their third straight win after the Christmas break.

Matt Lenz was also excellent in goal for Steinbach, stopping 24 of 25 Natives shots for his league-leading 19th win of the season. With the result, the Pistons have stretched out their lead on first place in the MJHL to six points over the Portage Terriers.

Steinbach got the scoring started 1:52 into the first period. Neepawa forward Jager Lapointe gave the puck away to Mole in his own zone, and the 20-year-old Winnipeg native beat Dawson Green on a breakaway for his 9th goal of the season.

The Pistons connected on the power play late in the first frame to double their lead. Declan Graham let a slapshot go from the top of the point, and Max Neill tipped the puck past Green for his 9th of the season with 1:28 left. Carter Loney would pick up the secondary helper on the play.

Steinbach took two penalties towards the end of the period, giving the Natives a two-man advantage to start the second period. The road team killed off the first penalty but not the second as Brady Morrison brought the Natives to within a goal 43 seconds into the stanza.

That goal seemed to give Neepawa some jump as they controlled the play for much of the frame, but Lenz came up big on numerous occasions to keep it a one-goal game.

The Pistons found their legs again in the third period and didn’t give the Natives very much throughout the rest of the game. Steinbach caught a bit of a break and would regain their two-goal lead with 7:19 to go in the contest. Carter Loney fired a shot that Green seemingly covered in the crease, however the refs saw the puck loose in the crease. The only player that found the puck in the blue paint was Ty Naaykens, backhanding the disc underneath the Neepawa netminder for his 15th of the season.

Steinbach would take a late penalty in the final minutes of the third, but Lenz and the Pistons penalty kill came up big to preserve the 3-1 victory.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Pistons went 1 for 3 with the man advantage while the Natives went 1 for 6 on the power play.

UP NEXT: Steinbach continues a busy stretch on Tuesday night as they face the Steelers in Selkirk. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm and you can watch it on HockeyTV.