Courtesy of Steinbaconline.com – Written by Dave Anthony – Picture taken by Adeline Loewen
For it only being game three of the regular season, the matchup between the Steinbach Pistons and Portage Terriers had the feel of a heavyweight playoff game. When the dust settled, it was Steinbach that emerged as the 5-4 victors.
The Pistons came out flying in a first period that saw a couple players score their first goals in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Drew Anderson, a Portage native got the scoring started with his first of the year and couldn’t contain his smile after the game. “I was in shock. I was really pumped. Nothing better than to get one against the hometown,” said Anderson. Carter Chorney, who was playing his first game as a Pistons player picked up the assist as did Troy Williams.
Later in the period, Jordan Bochinski buried a backhand on the power play to make it 2-0 from Julien Koga and Landon Plett. And then 1:22 later, Dawson Waddell found the back of the net for the first time to make it 3-0 with assists to Max Cavallini and Cody Merritt.
The horn sounded, and Steinbach went off the ice to a standing ovation out shooting Portage 12-3 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Terriers, however, did not roll over and play dead. It was a back and forth affair in the first half of the second before Portage took over the back half. Just before the midway point, Ashton Clark scored from the blue line to make it 3-1. Then with under two minutes to go in the period, the Terriers would tie it up with goals from Ryan Sokoloski and Chase Brakel. Brakel’s goal came on the power play with less than 40 seconds remaining.
Then things got interesting.
A dust-up near the Terriers bench had everyone’s attention when gloves were shed between 17 year-old Declan Graham and 20 year-old Riley Thiessen. Graham may have lost the battle but definitely won the respect of his teammates as Julien Koga talked post game. “It’s all about standing up for each other and for Declan to go with a 20 year-old, I think it gave us the spark we needed for sure.”
The Pistons carried that energy into the final period where it was Koga that snapped home a wrister from the right side on the power play making it 4-3 Steinbach with Will Koop picking up the assist.
The lead didn’t last long as Portage countered on their own man advantage with Sokoloski picking up his second of the game on a deflection in front.
Midway through the period, with Steinbach on another power play, Tyler Anderson gloved down a clearing attempt just outside the blue line, the young defenseman had to wait for his teammates to get on side and by holding onto the puck, forced a couple of Terriers to rush in for a check.
As he pulled the defenders out of position, Anderson hit Koop on the tape with a chip pass and Koop went into the zone with speed as Bradley Schoonbaert rushed to the net. Koop hit him with a perfect pass and Schoonbaert made no mistake burying the eventual game-winner with a perfect wrist shot.
After some desperate moments, including a penalty in the last two minutes, some big blocked shots and strong play from Roman Bengert, the Pistons sealed the win and stayed undefeated on the young season.
The power play capitalized when it needed to finishing 3-for-10 while the penalty kill went 2-for-6. Bengert finished with 25 saves on the night.
The Pistons will use the momentum of this hard fought win as they head out onto the road for the first time, meeting up with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines on Saturday and Sunday night before returning home to face the Winnipeg Blues on Wednesday.