The Steinbach Pistons collected their 7th win in a row on Wednesday night, after defeating the OCN Blizzard 5-2 in their third game of a four-game home stand.
It was a back and forth opening period as both teams had quality chances on goal. While OCN controlled the first five minutes, the Pistons used a good cycle and strong puck control in the offensive zone to get momentum on their side. After a couple of hard shifts down low in a row, the Pistons drew the first penalty of the game. The MJHL’s second-ranked power play went to work as Braden Purtill batted in his 6th goal of the year giving Steinbach the 1-0 lead. Joe Leonidas and Vaughn Dupre grabbed the assists.
The first period came to an end but not before Roman Bengert made one of his best saves of the game. With the Blizzard on their first power play of the night, a cross-ice pass caught the Pistons penalty killers standing still, and it was Bengert that came sliding across and just got the toe of his skate on the puck, keeping it 1-0 for the home side.
In the second, Steinbach struck twice in under four minutes. First, it was Leonidas picking up his 3rd goal of the year giving the 20 year-old two points on the night after a beautiful give-and-go with Will Koop. Bradley Schoonbaert added the second assist. “It’s a fun time right now,” Leonidas said after the game. “It’s a great group of guys, we’re focused on winning and it makes it a lot of fun.”
Schoonbaert added another helper on Mack Graham’s power play goal later in the period. After a good rush from Ryan Carlson to get into the zone on the power play, Schoonbaert found Graham for the forwards 26th goal of the season. “It’s great playing with guys like Mack (Graham) and Will (Koop),” Schoonbaert said after the game. “It’s fun to think about us being together not just this year, but next as well. They are great players.”
With Steinbach up 3-0, the Blizzard got on the board, converting on a 2 on 1 to cut into the lead. The horn sounded as the Pistons skated off holding onto a 3-1 lead.
In the third, it was a Blizzard power play that struck to make it 3-2. After the teams traded good scoring opportunities, Steinbach regained their two-goal lead as a clean face-off win from Jack Johnson found the stick of newcomer Riley Bruce who fired a low shot that was tipped perfectly by Landon Plett. For the Blumenort native Plett, it was goal 15 on the season and one off his total goal output from last season.
Will Koop topped off the scoring, snapping off a beautiful wrist shot from a Graham feed to make it 5-2. For Koop it was goal 14 for the rookie while Graham and Schoonbaert added the assists.
Things would get a little more physical, but nothing major would take place in the final 10 minutes of the period and the Pistons moved 9 points up on second place in the MJHL standings.
The power play was a factor tonight finishing a solid 2 of 3 while the penalty kill was also 2 of 3. Shots on goal finished 36-28 for Steinbach. Both goalies were fantastic, really going back and forth with highlight-worthy saves.
The Pistons wrap up their four-game home stand on Saturday night as they welcome in the Dauphin Kings (10-23-5). The Kings are 6 points behind Swan Valley for the 8th and final playoff spot. The Pistons are 3-0 vs the Kings, with the last two wins coming in overtime.
Bradley Schoonbaert – 30 assists on the season (2nd on the team)
Mack Graham – 57 points (15 in past 7 games, all Pistons wins)
Roman Bengert – improved to 23-3
Danny Pion made his Pistons debut skating with Tyson McConnell and Wyatt Hinson.
Riley Bruce collected 1 assist in his first game back with Steinbach.