It’s been a long two weeks since the Pistons have played a game at the TG Smith Centre, but that will change after the first road trip of the 2019/20 season as Steinbach heads northwest to take on the Waywayseecappo Wolverines and the Neepawa Natives this Saturday and Sunday.
Steinbach came away with a split at the 2019 MJHL Showcase in Winnipeg this past Monday and Tuesday. They started with a 4-1 loss on Monday afternoon to the Selkirk Steelers, where the Pistons recorded 49 shots on goal but only solved the Selkirk netminder once thanks to Zach Purcell’s first MJHL goal.
Then came the Wolverines on Tuesday, a game that saw the Pistons fall behind 3-0 in the first 20 minutes before coming back to win 4-3 in overtime. Rylan Bettens (PP) and Curtis Ireland scored in the second period, Jack Kilroy tallied his second goal of the season to tie it up early in the third period, and Codey Behun sealed the deal on the power play in overtime with his third goal of the season to give the Pistons the extra point.
Steinbach’s power play finally broke through with two goals coming on the man advantage thanks to R. Bettens and Behun. The Pistons power play is still 2/26 on the year (7.7%) but has been trending upward for the past three games with the chances both units are generating.
One area that will be key for the Pistons this weekend is their penalty kill ,which currently sits at 77.3% on the season; second-last in the MJHL. The other troubling PK stat for Head Coach Paul Dyck is that his club has taken the second fewest minor penalties thus far (22). Steinbach will need to be strong on the kill in order to be successful this weekend.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Rylan Bettens
After a bit of a slow start, Rylan Bettens has been coming on strong for Steinbach over the last seven days. He had a goal and an assist in a shootout victory last week over Virden, and picked up the Pistons’ first power play goal against Wayway at the MJHL Showcase this past Tuesday. The older Bettens brother is a force up front for Steinbach thanks to his speed and power, so look for him to lead the way for his team this weekend.
@ WAYWAYSEECAPPO WOLVERINES – Saturday, October 5th, 7:30 pm
Steinbach sits with a solid 4-1-1 record through six games thus far this season, while the Wolverines sit two points ahead of the Pistons through seven games. Wayway has two games this weekend, when they take on the Winkler Flyers tonight and Steinbach tomorrow night.
Jaymes Knee is tied for the league lead in scoring with Oil Caps forward Hunter Cloutier coming into the weekend with 4 goals and 9 points. He continued his solid play against the Pistons on Tuesday, notching a nice wrist shot marker while also chipping in with a helper.
Thomson Phinney picked up his first loss of the season, but he still boasts some impressive numbers this season in goal for the Wolverines. Wayway also holds a good young goaltender in 17-year-old Liam Tereposky from Yellowknife, who potentially could see the net on the back end of the back-to-back this weekend.
SPECIAL TEAMS: PP 16.1% (5th), PK 83.3% (6th)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Tyler Leibl
Leibl is currently on a three-game point streak for the Wolverines with a goal in each of those games, including one versus the Pistons on Tuesday at the Showcase. The Pistons will need to keep an eye out for him if they want to shut down Waywayseecappo on Saturday night.
@ NEEPAWA NATIVES – Sunday, October 6th, 6:00 pm
The Natives will also be playing tonight (@ Swan) before taking on the Pistons Sunday night. Neepawa is still looking for their first win of the season but have been competitive in a lot of their games early in the regular season under new Head Coach/GM Ken Pearson.
Leading the way for the Natives in scoring coming into the weekend is Eli Lieffers, who has put up 3 goals and 2 assists in six games. Neepawa also boasts one of the best young players in the MJHL in 17-year-old defenceman Cooper Morris, who has put up two goals and one assist this season in his first junior season.
Goaltender Ethan Peterson was acquired by the Natives in the offseason from the Portage Terriers, in a season where he was a MJHL and ANAVET Cup champion with Portage. This is his third MJHL season and his first as the clear #1 option in the crease. He’s backed up by Dawson Green, who won a Manitoba U-18 title last season with the Brandon AAA Wheat Kings.
SPECIAL TEAMS: PP 8% (10th), PK 65.2% (11th)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Eli Lieffers
Lieffers is hard to miss out on the ice thanks to his 6’5” frame, but he’s had an excellent start to the young season. The Saskatoon product has some WHL experience to his credit (11 games with the ICE), so look for him to continue his solid stretch on Sunday night against Steinbach.
Catch both of these games this weekend on HockeyTV, and listen to Sunday’s game on the radio with Dave Anthony on MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com.