Bradley Schoonbaert had a goal and two assists as the Steinbach Pistons used goals from six different forwards on their way to a 6-2 victory over the Nipawin Hawks in Game 3 of the 2018 ANAVET Cup.
The Pistons now hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 with Game 4 coming later tonight. Matthew Thiessen was excellent for the Pistons, as he made 23 saves in the victory. Hawks goalie Declan Hobbs stopped 27 of 33 Steinbach shots in the loss.
The game was played in front of a loud and boisterous Centennial Arena in Nipawin, as it is commonly known as ‘The Cage’ around the community. However the Pistons silenced them midway through the first, and brought the section of Pistons fans to its feet as Easton Bennett put home a rebound after a series of Steinbach shots. Luke Bellerose and Brady Tatro also assisted on the Bennett goal at the 11:27 mark of the first period.
In the second, Steinbach’s offence came to life in what felt like for the first time in this series. First, Brady Tatro snapped home a perfect shot bardown over the blocker of Hobbs to make it 2-0 Pistons 2:11 into the second. Tatro’s shot also destroyed Hobb’s water bottle in the process/
Over a minute later, the Pistons top line counterattacked after a Hawks rush to break in on a 3-on-2. Austin Heidemann and Schoonbaert played give-and-go, and Heidemann’s backhand shot picked the top corner to make it 3-0.
Just past the halfway mark, another Nipawin neutral zone turnover saw Schoonbaert and Drew Worrad break in on a 2-on-1. Schoonbaert’s past to the far post went off of Worrad, who went down awkwardly on the play, and banked in past Hobbs for a 4-0 lead.
Schoonbaert continued to set the pace for his club in the third, deflecting a Mark Wilson point shot past Hobbs and in on a power play to give the Pistons a 5-0 lead. Worrad also picked up an assist on Schoonbaert’s 2nd of the ANAVET Cup, and 7th point overall in this best-of-7 series.
Hawks forward Logan Casavant broke Thiessen’s shutout bid, as he tipped home a Christian Bosa pass underneath the left pad to cut the lead to 4 with 7:30 to go. Brandan Arnold also picked up an assist on the play.
Daniel McKitrick responded for the Pistons on a late power play, as Declan Graham found him at the side of the net on a brilliant pass. McKitrick popped the puck into the yawning cage with 2:16 to go in the third, with Graham and Jack Johnson picking up assists on the goal.
Carter Doerksen added a late goal for Nipawin with 31 seconds to go, with Kenzie Arnold and Michael Grant adding the helpers.
The Pistons went 2 for 5 on the power play, while Nipawin went 0 for 3 on its man advantages.
UP NEXT: Game 4 goes tonight, with a 8:30 pm puck drop scheduled (7:30 pm in Saskatchewan). You can catch that game with the voice of the Steinbach Pistons, Dave Anthony, on MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com.