It was a balanced scoring effort for the Steinbach Pistons, who got goals from six different scorers in a 6-1 win Saturday night over the OCN Blizzard on home ice.
Thomson Phinney made his second start as a Piston and picked up his first win in blue and white, as he made 21 saves in goal. OCN starter Zack Cloutier stopped 38 of 44 Steinbach shots and was tagged with the loss.
After an entertaining end to last night’s game in which there were a lot of fireworks and tussles after the whistle, many expected the same between the two clubs to begin this game. It did not turn out that way as both sides couldn’t generate many chances and good opportunities towards each goaltender.
Caydin Cleland would break the offensive funk in the game, scoring his first goal of the season on a hard slap shot from the left point that beat Cloutier over the shoulder. Rylan Bettens and Codey Behun picked up the assists on the Cleland marker and it was 1-0 Steinbach with 2:21 left in the first period.
The white-hot Zach Purcell continued to score for the Pistons, taking a pass from Carter Loney on a 2-on-1 and beating Cloutier upstairs just 30 seconds into the middle frame. Bryce Young had the other assist on Purcell’s 23rd goal of the season, and 11th in his last 7 games.
OCN responded twenty-nine seconds later on a goal in front by their leading scorer Boston Bird. But Steinbach started to take it to the Blizzard in the second period, and would regain their two-goal lead with just over eight minutes to play. Kyle Bettens snapped a picture-perfect wrister into the top corner for a 3-1 Pistons advantage, with captain Declan Graham notching the only apple on Bettens’ 16th goal of the season.
The home team would pot three in the third period to put the game away. Carter Loney started off the frame by beating Cloutier with a backhander 1:09 in, with Purcell and Young getting the assists on the UMD commit’s 14th goal on the campaign.
Codey Behun would get on the board for Steinbach, tipping home a Curtis Ireland point shot through the legs of the OCN goalie for a 5-1 Pistons lead. Rylan Bettens would add the bonus helper on Behun’s 19th on the season.
Kasyn Kruse would cap off the scoring with 45 seconds to play, as he picked up a rebound off of the pad of the goalie and slid the puck into the open cage. Max Neill would assist on Kruse’s 2nd goal as a Piston.
Phinney was solid the whole game for Steinbach when called upon, making a few key saves when the Pistons were up by a goal to keep the momentum in favor of the home side. Steinbach’s six points over the Winkler Flyers for first in the MJHL, as Winkler defeated the Pistons’ next opponent, the Swan Valley Stampeders, in overtime Saturday night.
The power play went 0 for 2 while the penalty kill was a perfect 3 for 3 on the night.
UP NEXT: Join us on Monday night when then the Pistons take on the Swan Valley Stampeders at 7:30 pm. The Manitoba Grey Cup Tour will swing through the TG Smith Centre before puck drop. You can get a picture with the championship trophy and have the chance to meet Buzz, Boomer, and Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill starting at 6:30 in the lobby!