The Steinbach Pistons will hit the road this weekend for their final trip away from Steinbach in the 2019-20 season. And it’s a daunting trip at that as the Pistons play three times over the next three days beginning tonight against the OCN Blizzard, then they’ll face off with the Swan Valley Stampeders on Saturday and Sunday evening.
The Pistons are coming off of one of their most complete games of the season as they defeated the Winkler Flyers 5-0 at the TG Smith on Monday afternoon. Thomson Phinney made 25 saves for his first shutout as a Piston, and his second overall this season.
Before the Christmas holiday, Zach Purcell was sitting at 12 goals on the year. Over the past month the man his teammates call ‘Teddy’ has vaulted all the way up to third in the MJHL in goals, as he’s scored 18 times in his past 14 games. Purcell notched his 30th of the season against Winkler with a shot in tight off of a beauty feed by captain Declan Graham.
It was also an afternoon to remember for Bryce Young. Young started the game with a full cage on his helmet, but he removed it before the second period and scored two goals on two wrist shots over the glove of Flyers goalie Dorrin Luding. He’s been on a roll as of late with five points in his past two games.
The Pistons’ power play has been red hot over the past five games as they’re 8 for 20, clicking at a 40% rate over that span. The penalty kill has also been solid recently, going a perfect 10 for 10 over the past two games against Virden and Winkler.
Pistons PP 21.7% (6th), PK 78.2% (8th)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Dylan Cassie
Cassie is one of two Pistons that have skated in all 55 games the team has played in 2019-20. The fourth-year d-man recently played his 200th MJHL game on Saturday versus the Oil Capitals and scored a goal and an assist. Cassie is currently on a four-game point streak and is three points away from setting a new career high for points.
@ OCN Friday, January 21st – 7:00 PM
The OCN Blizzard are currently 10th place in the MJHL standings and have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. The Pistons have won all four meetings against the Blizzard this season, with Steinbach winning 5-1 and 6-1 back on January 31st and February 1st in their last meetings.
OCN have been playing spoiler for the past two weeks as they’ve defeated teams who are battling for playoff spots including the Stampeders, the Selkirk Steelers, and the Winnipeg Blues. But the Blizzard are coming off of a rough 10-3 loss to the Dauphin Kings this past Tuesday night.
Boston Bird is the team’s leading scorer with 13 goals and 40 points in 46 games, while Dustin Mozdzen is second on the team with 21 points in 50 games. OCN goes with a goaltending tandem in 19-year-old goalies Danick Rodrigue and Zack Cloutier, with Rodrigue doing a bit better stats-wise between the two with a 3.83 GAA, compared to Cloutier’s 3.92 GAA.
Blizzard PP 15.5% (10th), PK 74.3% (11th)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Aiden Litke
The 16-year-old from Winnipeg recently signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Portland Winterhawks at the beginning of February. Litke has been OCN’s most consistent performer as of late with points in 6 of his past 7 games. He didn’t score a point against Steinbach during their two meetings in Steinbach, but Litke can put the puck in the net. The Pistons will need to watch for him during tonight’s matchup.
@ SWAN VALLEY – January 22nd – 7:30 pm, January 23rd – 6:00 pm
The Stampeders have surprised many this season after losing a lot of solid players from their 2018-19 team that came within a goal of hoisting the Turnbull Cup. Swan currently sits comfortably in 4th place in the MJHL standings, and they can lock up home-ice advantage in the first round with a win over their final three games of the season. They’ll look to get back in the win column this weekend as they’re coming off of back-to-back losses versus the Winnipeg Blues and Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
The Pistons have gone 3-1-0 against the Stampeders this season, with Swan’s only win coming in their first meeting of the season on December 6th. The last matchup between the two came on February 3rd where Steinbach won 5-1. Ty Naaykens had a pair of goals while Declan Graham, Tanner Mole, and Zach Purcell notched the other markers. Matt Lenz was a brick wall in that contest, stopping 44 of 45 Swan Valley shots.
The Stampeders are led in scoring by rookie forward Luke Beerman, who has 17 goals and 54 points in 57 games played. Hard-hitting, physical forward Tommy Cardinal sits behind Beerman with 49 points this season, and John Jebamani leads Swan in defence scoring with 31 points in 54 games played.
Swan PP 26.8% (2nd), PK 80.5% (T-3rd)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Josh Maucieri
Maucieri is one of the few holdovers from last year’s dynamic Stampeders squad, and lately he’s been a consistent source of offense for Swan Valley. The Crosby, Minnesota product is currently on a mini three-game point streak and has recorded at least a point in 5 of his past 6 games. Maucieri has done damage against Steinbach during the season series with a goal and four assists against the Pistons this season, so Steinbach will need to watch out for him this weekend.
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN
You can watch all of these games online on HockeyTV, or you can tune into your radio at MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com with Dave Anthony on the call all weekend long. The pre-game shows will begin 10-15 prior to puck drop for each matchup.