The Steinbach Pistons will hit the ice for the first time in almost a week when they travel to the Rink Training Centre for the first time tonight to take on the Winnipeg Blues.
The Pistons were scheduled to play both Friday and Saturday this past weekend against the Swan Valley Stampeders and Dauphin Kings, but both were postponed due to the bad winter storm that rolled through Manitoba. The team has spent the past weekend practicing and getting ready for the game tonight.
Steinbach is coming off of a big 5-1 win over the league-leading Portage Terriers last Wednesday at the TG Smith, with Max Neill (2), Ty Naaykens, David Queree, and Troy Beauchemin netting the goals for the Pistons in the win. Matt Lenz was solid once again in goal, picking up his 6th win of the season with a 20 save performance.
Carter Loney has continued his impressive rookie season as he notched three assists on Wednesday, bringing his total up to lead the Pistons with 9 points (2 G, 7 A) in 9 games thus far. This will also be the first games for Codey Behun, Ty Naaykens, and Dylan Cassie against their former team, as they were acquired by the Pistons in an offseason trade this past June. Codey Behun is tied for the team lead in goals this season with four, while Naaykens (2 G, 3 A in 8 GP) and Cassie (1 G, 1 A in 9 GP) have been solid this season for Steinbach.
The Winnipeg Blues come into tonight’s contest having played the second most games in the MJHL thus far with twelve. The Blues have completely remodelled since 50 Below Sports and Entertaiment (parent company of the WHL’s Winnipeg ICE and The Rink) purchased the club early in the offseason.
Winnipeg fields a young roster full of talent, including 16-year-old leading scorer Rhys Raeside (14 pts in 12 GP) and 17-year-old Braden Fischer (11 pts in 12 GP). The team is led by 18-year-old returning forwards Mikol Sartor (11 pts) and Brayden Foreman (4 pts).
The Blues also boast a good young goaltending duo in Cooper Hatfield and Dante Giannuzzi. Steinbach saw Hatfield in the preseason and the 18-year-old goaltender shut them down by stopping all the shots he faced in 30 minutes of work, while Gianuzzi recently had one of the best goalie performances of the season as he made 52 saves in a recent win over the Winkler Flyers.
Steinbach will dress 11 forwards and 7 defencemen tonight as forwards Tanner Mole, Jack Kilroy, and Joey Dosan are all inactive due to injury.
Watch the contest live on HockeyTV with puck drop set for 7:30 pm!
Pistons PP 12.2% (10th), PK 81.8% (7th)
Blues PP 12.5% (T-8th), PK 86.4 % (3rd)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pistons: Ty Naaykens
Naaykens has been rounding into form the past week as he has a recorded a point in his last two games, including the game-winning goal against Portage last Wednesday. The 18-year-old Winnipeg native was a bit banged up at the start of the 2019-20 season, missing most of the preseason and one game at the MJHL Showcase thus far. But his last two games are any indication, Naaykens will be back to producing at a solid rate on Steinbach’s top line.
Blues: Jack Oleksiuk
The 17-year-old forward has been one of the Blues’ most noticeable players this season, as he sits fifth in team scoring with 2 goals and 3 assists in 12 games. Look for Oleksiuk to be a factor against the Pistons tonight.