It was a wild and entertaining forty minutes of hockey that saw the Pistons and the Blues scored nine goals combined. But the defence of Steinbach showed up in the third as they beat Winnipeg 6-4 in Game #2 of the MJHL Quarterfinals.
The Pistons lead the best-of-7 opening round series 2-0.
Steinbach went into a building that saw the Blues go 5-0 at home in last year’s postseason before the Pistons’ Game #6 win that sent them off to the MJHL Championship final. The game tonight was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams trading blow after blow on the scoresheet.
A feisty Kyle Bettens, who has had the Blues’ number lately, continued his hot play and opened the scoring 5:09 into the first period. He jumped out of the penalty box and went in on a 2-on-1 rush with Troy Beauchemin. Beauchemin found Bettens, and he went across the grain to beat an outstretched Jeremy Link on his backhand to make it 1-0 Steinbach. Easton Bennett picked up the extra assist on the Winnipeg native’s first career playoff goal.
The Blues answered back at the eight minute mark as Ty Naaykens beat Pistons starter Matt Radomsky off of a rebound in front to equalize the game at 1.
Both sides struck quick with under three minutes to play in the first period. Brendan Martin was levelled by Kelton Sutherland trying to turn up the ice from behind the net, and the puck bounced right to Codey Behun. Behun gave the home Blues a 2-1 lead with a quick wrist shot with 2:39 left in the opening period.
The Pistons bounced back 23 seconds later, as Bettens slipped the puck to Nico Labossiere who fired a picture perfect top corner shot that beat Link to make it 2-2.
After a scurmish that ended the first period, the Blues’ Griffin Chwaliboga was given a penalty that put Steinbach on the power play to start the second period. Sutherland then took a holding penalty that gave the Pistons an extended 5-on-3 power play. Near the end of the two-man advantage, Troy Williams fired a point shot that was stopped. The rebound came free and the captain Tyson McConnell banged in his first of the playoffs to put Steinbach back out on top by a score of 3-2. Easton Bennett picked up the extra assist on the play.
Winnipeg punched right back as an Ethan Unruh shot was stopped by Radomsky, but the rebound went on the tape of Sullivan Shortreed who just beat the outstretched Pistons goalie to tie the game at 3 at the 5:41 mark of the second.
Then a crazy sequence took place with under eight minutes to play. First, Curtis Ireland broke out on the power play and chipped the puck to Kyle Bettens that sent in the Pistons on a 2-on-1. Bettens found Tanner Mole, who tapped it into the yawning cage for his third goal of the playoffs to once again put the road team on top 4-3 with 7:43 to play.
18 seconds later, the Pistons turned the puck over in their own zone and Tony Apetagon beat Radomsky five-hole to tie it up once again.
But the Pistons took the lead just 38 seconds after Apetagon’s goal. A broken play saw the Blues break up two passes in their own zone, but the puck went right to Brendan Martin who beat Link at 13:13 for his first of the playoffs to give Steinbach a 5-4 lead. Labossiere and Bettens had the assists, giving Bettens his third assist and fourth point on the night.
The Pistons played an excellent defensive third period, as the Blues didn’t get many quality scoring chances. The best opportunity Steinbach got in the third was a penalty shot, after Brendan Martin was hauled down on a breakaway. However, Martin never got control of the puck and got pokechecked by Link.
With the goalie pulled for the extra attacker, Easton Bennett sealed the Game #2 win for Steinbach with 24 seconds left as his clearing attempt went off the glass and just crossed the goal line for a 6-4 lead and eventual win.
Radomsky, much like Game #1, shut down the Blues in the third period as he made 35 saves in the victory. Steinbach got to Link in the first two periods, as he made 20 saves in the loss.
Forward Brendan Westbrook re-entered the lineup for Steinbach in his first game action in a month and a half. He replaced Riley Vautour for the Pistons, as Vautour is out with an upper body injury suffered in Game #1.
The Pistons power play went 2 for 7, and killed off all four penalties they faced.
UP NEXT: Game #3 goes Tuesday night at the TG Smith Centre, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 pm. Get your tickets online at Steinbachpistons.ca/tickets.