In a game where fifteen goals were scored, it would be fair to say that the offenses had the upper hand. The Pistons would end up edging out the Neepawa Natives 8-7 in a game dominated by scoring and speed.
Mark Taraschuk started the party with his fourth of the season at 2:16 of the first period. His goal would be assisted by Carter Chorney and Jack Johnson, who made his Steinbach Pistons debut on Wednesday night. Johnson impressed with his soft hands and intensity as the game progressed.
Neepawa would quickly answer just three minutes later, where Natives captain Reigan Buchanan would put it past Roman Bengert.
Steinbach would again take the lead through Mackenzie Graham who led the team with four points. Just 16 seconds after Mack’s goal, Ryan Carlson would extend the lead to 3-1 for Steinbach.
In a back and forth game however, Neepawa would quickly respond, time and time again. Despite Steinbach having the advantage in shots and chances, it was defensive mistakes and poor passing that eventually led to the game being blown wide open.
After the first period the scoreline read 4-2 Steinbach, it was clear that neither starting goalie were at the top of their game. This eventually led to a goalie change for Steinbach just past the midway point in the 2nd when Neepawa scored their fifth goal.
Roman Bengert would end up giving up 5 goals on 29 shots, but to be fair to him, there were quite a few shots that he saved that very few other goalies in the league would have saved. Nevertheless, Matt Radomsky would get the call after 13:29 in the 2nd period. (Radomsky would also get credit for the win in the contest.)
As the second period came to a close, the game got rather chippy, with both teams taking liberties on their opponents. This was allowed to occur for two reasons, there was only one referee tonight, instead of the usual two; and the so called “one-fight rule”. (in which after one fight, the player is ejected) It all started when Steinbach captain Jordan Bochinski made a hard, but clean check on a Natives player, which left him shaken up. A small scrum ensued but nothing came of it. Neepawa’s Matthew Milan would deliver a vicious slash to Julian Koga which caused another scrum.
An incident occurred towards the end of the second period when Mackenzie Graham was checked near center ice. The Natives player appeared to have made contact to the head of Graham. This was one of several questionable hits by both teams in the closing minutes of the second period.
Player safety should be a priority, in all situations, and the lack of the second referee tonight could have led to a serious injury. Luckily no players were injured in this minute or so of chaos, but there was definitely some questionable contact made by both teams.
After two periods, the tension in the arena was rising, and both teams came out in the third and quickly put that feeling to bed. Teams came out slow, and rather sloppy, but Steinbach would eventually retake the lead through a pure-effort play by Vaughn Dupre who was set-up by Cody Merritt.
Tyson McConnell would end up with the eventual game-winner less than a minute later as he beat Natives goalie Evan Robert, for the eighth time of the evening. Neepawa would get their seventh when they pulled Robert in the last minute making the finale more interesting.
A high-stick as the puck left the Pistons zone and Neepawa with an empty net, ended the game as the faceoff would be deep in the Natives zone with less than fifteen seconds to go. A faceoff win, and a few passes later and the horn went.
Steinbach would hang on to win one of the craziest games of the season thus far, 8-7. The Pistons play next on Friday November 18th, as the OCN Blizzard visit the T.G. Smith Centre. Puck drops at 7:30pm
Three Stars of the Game
1st Mackenzie Graham (Steinbach) 2G, 2A
2nd Ryan Carlson (Steinbach) 1G, 2A
3rd Justin Metcalf (Neepawa) 2G, 1A