Matt Lenz turned aside 37 of 38 shots against him, including 19 saves in the third period alone as the Steinbach Pistons swept the home-and-home opening weekend over the Winkler Flyers with a 3-1 win Saturday night.
Playing in front of a near capacity crowd inside the Winkler Rec Complex, the Pistons held their nerve and survive a Flyer push late in the third period to preserve a 2-0 start.
It was a big-time defensive battle in the first 20 minutes, as both sides put seven shots on goal in the period. Both Lenz and Winkler starter Dorrin Luding held their ground and kept the game scoreless.
The Pistons came out in the second period, and used some quick strike offense to take a two-goal lead before the two minute mark. Good breakout passes by Zach Purcell and Carter Loney sprung Kyle Bettens on a breakaway, and the Bemidji State commit went bardown over Luding’s glove to give Steinbach a 1-0 lead 1:44 into the second period.
Seven seconds later Steinbach struck again as Rylan Clemons found Max Neill all alone in front, and he beat Luding in tight for a 2-0 Pistons advantage. Tucker Hodgson would pick up the extra assist and his first MJHL point, along with Clemons himself, on Neill’s first of the season.
The Pistons would extend their lead in the third period, as a bad change from a Flyer forward led to a Steinbach odd-man rush. Declan Graham worked his way into the zone and fed Codey Behun, who picked up his first as a Steinbach Piston with a quick wrister that beat Luding through the five-hole just past the five-minute mark of the final period.
Steinbach would take their foot off the gas pedal towards the end of the game, and the Flyers pressed hard. They would break Lenz’s shutout bid as Drake Burgin threw a point shot on goal that beat the Pistons’ starter underneath his arm with 5:52 left.
But Winkler took two penalties late in the game that killed their momentum, and the Pistons would skate away with two points under their belt.
The Pistons have won 11 straight regular season outings over their Mennonite rivals dating back to 2018.
Both teams struck out once again on the man advantage, with Steinbach going 0 for 3 and Winkler going 0 for 4.
UP NEXT: The Pistons travel to Portage La Prairie on Wednesday night to face the defending ANAVET Cup champion Terriers, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:30 pm.