Ty Naaykens scored twice and added an assist as the Steinbach Pistons beat the Virden Oil Caps in a hard-hitting 5-2 win at the TG Smith.
The Pistons played a bit shorthanded as they dressed 11 forwards and 7 defenceman, but got contributions from across the lineup in the win. Dante Giannuzzi continues to excel for the Pistons as he made 28 saves for his 4th win as a Piston. Kyle Kozma made 35 saves in the loss for the Oil Caps.
It was a bit of a sloppy first period as both sides traded tripping infractions throughout the frame, with the teams taking a combined five tripping penalties as a result.
Steinbach cashed in on the final tripping call of the period and took the lead on the power play with 9 seconds left. Declan Graham took a pass from Naaykens, reset at the top of the point, and let go a wrist shot that beat Kozma for a 1-0 Pistons advantage. Bryce Young notched the bonus assist on the captain’s 2nd goal of the season.
The Oil Caps would equalize 1:07 into the second period on a breakaway goal by Tanner Andrew. But Steinbach would gain their one-goal edge right back, and it came off of the stick of 16-year-old ‘AP’ Neo Kiemeney. The current RHA National Prep forward, who was making his MJHL debut, fired a shot from the left wing that beat Kozma’s glove for his first MJHL goal at the 6:58 mark of the second period, with Rylan Bettens picking up the helper.
Steinbach would gain an important two-goal with another late PP goal, as Naaykens jammed home a rebound at the side of the goal with 1:38 to play. Bryce Young and Max Neill would notch the helpers on Naaykens’ 9th goal of the season.
Things would get a bit rough in the third period as Virden forward Owen Blocker nailed Naaykens in the Oil Caps zone. Blocker was called for five and a game misconduct for boarding, however it would be Virden on the power play as Bryce Young stepped in for a fight. Young was shown the gate with 4 minutes for roughing, and a five-minute major for fighting.
The Oil Caps would score on the second half of the double-minor on a nice feed by Logan Rands to Hunter Cloutier, and Cloutier beat an outstretched Giannuzzi to draw Virden within one with 13 minutes to play.
But the Pistons would catch a big break to retake their two-goal edge. Virden d-man Jackson Orr fanned on a breakout pass in front of his own goal, which allowed Tanner Mole to bury the loose disc by a stunned Kozma for his first goal of the season with just over eight to play.
The Pistons would survive a physical Oil Caps crew the rest of the night, while Giannuzzi came up with some big saves to keep the lead.
Naaykens would seal the deal on some great hustle by Rylan Bettens, as the Winnipeg native took a pass from Bettens and tapped it into the open cage for his 10th goal of the season with 42 seconds to play. That gave Steinbach two points and some momentum heading into this weekend’s set with Swan Valley.
The Pistons went 2 for 7 on the power play while the Oil Caps went 1 for 7.
UP NEXT: The next action will be on Friday night when the Pistons meet the Swan Valley Stampeders for the first time this season on BSI Insurance Toy Drive Night! Bring a toy to donate to Southeast Helping Hands, and you will receive a free Pistons ticket voucher to any home game in the month of January! Puck drops at 7:30 pm; get your tickets now at Steinbachpistons.ca/tickets.