After a couple of solid 4-2 wins this past Tuesday and Wednesday, the Pistons begin a four-game road trip tomorrow night against the Virden Oil Capitals and on Sunday against the Selkirk Steelers.
Steinbach started the week with a road win over the Winnipeg Blues on Tuesday, scoring four different types of goals in the process. Tanner Mole scored a shorthanded goal and an empty-net goal, Bryce Young beat goalie Cooper Hatfield on a penalty shot, and Zach Purcell netted the eventual game-winner with an even strength.
The Pistons returned to home ice on Wednesday and got past a pesky Selkirk squad. Mole continued his hot streak as he notched two goals and two assists on the night, while linemates Ty Naaykens and Bryce Young had the other tallies for Steinbach.
The Naaykens-Mole-Young line has been producing big-time, netting a combined 12 points in their last two games. Bryce Young is the hottest out of the trio as he currently sports an eight-game point streak. And Mole has broken out of his slump since returning from injury, putting up 6 points in the last two games.
With Matt Lenz out due to injury, Dante Giannuzzi and Danton Belluk have both filled in well in goal. Giannuzzi made 35 saves on Tuesday night against his former team and was called up on Wednesday morning to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Belluk has been brilliant in two games thus far for Steinbach as he got his second start of the season on Wednesday and made 30 saves for the win.
The Pistons got a bit banged up on the back end on Wednesday night as both Christian Riemer and Dylan Cassie left the game with upper body injuries. That shouldn’t bode too well for a team that will be playing 5 games over the next week.
Pistons PP 19.8% (7th), PK 77.9% (8th)
PLAYER TO WATCH: David Queree
He is one of four Pistons to play all 30 games this season along with Codey Behun, Dylan Cassie, and linemate Troy Beauchemin. Queree has already surpassed his point total from a year ago and is trusted in all situations by Head Coach Paul Dyck. The 19-year-old from Richmond, B.C. is a top penalty killer for Steinbach and is one of their most consistent players in terms of work ethic and attitude out on the ice.
@ VIRDEN OIL CAPITALS – Saturday, December 14th
The upcoming game on Saturday will be the fourth meeting of the season between the Oil Caps and Pistons, and the final time that Steinbach will make their way to Tundra Oil and Gas Place this season. Steinbach has the season series edge so far at 2-1 as the Pistons won 5-2 at the TG Smith in their last matchup on December 4th.
Virden is currently 7th in the MJHL standings, and are coming off a _____ against the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. The Oil Caps are the highest scoring team in the league with 127 goals scored but have allowed 121 goals against, which is third most in the MJHL.
Due to their potent offense, Virden also has three players amongst the top 10 scorers, with captain Kolten Kanaski sitting 3rd with 43 points, Hunter Cloutier in 5th with 38 points, and Tanner Andrew right behind him in 6th with 36 points.
The Oil Caps also boast some great secondary scoring that Steinbach will need to watch out for, as forwards Jack Einarson, Josh Belcher, Dylan Halliday, and Brett Paddock all have 20 points or more on the season.
Virden PP 24.2% (4th), PK 78.7% (T-6th)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Hunter Cloutier
Cloutier has burned the Pistons this season, as he’s scored a goal in all three games against Steinbach while putting up five points in those outings as well. The 19-year-old from Winnipeg is also one of the MJHL’s most consistent forwards, as he’s had a point in 5 of his past 7 games.
@ SELKIRK STEELERS – Sunday, December 15th
The Steelers have been on a cold streak as of late. Including Wednesday night’s loss to Steinbach, Selkirk has lost 9 of their past 10 games and have dropped to the eighth spot in the MJHL standings.
Sunday will be the first visit for the Pistons to the House of Steel, where the Steelers have excelled this season. They currently have the second-best home record at 11-4-1 and have a league-high goal difference of +19 when they play at the Selkirk Rec Complex. They’ll be playing three home games in three nights starting tonight, when they take on the Swan Valley Stampeders.
Carter Barley led the way for Selkirk on Wednesday night with a goal and an assist, as he leads the team with 36 points and is tied for the league-lead with 3 shorthanded goals. Sheldin Howard had the other marker for the Steelers, giving him his first point since being acquired from the Portage Terriers.
Levi Mitchell was solid against the Pistons with 34 saves on the night as he continues to rack up the games and minutes played, both categories he leads all goaltenders in.
Selkirk PP 17% (8th), PK 86.5% (1st)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryan Piwniuk
Piwniuk broke a seven-game pointless streak by registering two assists against the Pistons on Wednesday. Piwniuk is one of three 20-year-olds on the Steelers along with Barley and Mitchell, as they’re leading a young group this season. He’s currently fourth amongst his team with 22 points but he can light it up at any point.