The Steinbach Pistons (28-7-3) will look to continue their winning ways in 2020 as they head back out on the road to take on the Selkirk Steelers (16-19-2).
The Pistons have won three straight games since the Christmas break and have stretched out their lead in the MJHL standings with a six point edge over the Portage Terriers. Their last victory came on Sunday night when they got by the Neepawa Natives 3-1.
A big reason why Steinbach have been successful to start the unofficial second half of the season has been their defence, allowing four goals against over the past three games. Matt Lenz has returned to the crease for the Pistons after missing a few weeks due to injury and has picked up right where he left off.
The 20-year-old from Grapevine, Texas was named an MJHL Star of the Week yesterday along with defenceman Curtis Ireland, who notched a goal and three assists over the past week. Ireland has vaulted himself up to 2 goals and 16 assists on the season, good enough for 2nd on the team in d-man scoring behind captain Declan Graham.
This will be the fourth meeting of the season between the Pistons and the Steelers, with Steinbach leading the season series 2-1. The last time these two squads met was back on December 15th when the Pistons scored their biggest win of the season in a 9-1 final. Every forward that played on that day registered a point, with Bryce Young leading the way with a goal and three assists. Graham put together a three-point night, while call-up goalie Nik Anderson turned aside 28 Steeler shots in an impressive outing.
Since being in the middle of the pack in the MJHL standings in mid-November, the Steelers have been ice cold during the past month and a half by losing 12 of their past 14 games. They only won once in the month of December, and that was their last game before the Christmas break with a 5-2 win over Dauphin.
Selkirk is led in scoring by their captain Carter Barley, who has 14 goals and 40 points in 37 games played. Young forwards Blake Burr and Caiden Gault sit behind Barley with 34 and 27 points respectively while Colby Jaquet leads the Steelers in defenceman scoring with 4 goals and 21 points on the season.
Goalie Levi Mitchell is the MJHL leader amongst goalies in games played (30), minutes played (1,721), and shutouts (3). The Pistons got to him in their last outing as he was pulled after allowing 5 goals on 13 shots, but he rebounded in their next game against Dauphin with 33 saves in their win.
Pistons PP 20.4% (7th), PK 77.5% (T-7th)
Steelers PP 18.5% (8th), PK 85.3% (1st)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pistons: Max Neill
Steinbach’s power play units are in tough against the number one penalty kill in the MJHL. Neill currently leads the Pistons with five power play goals, and the 18-year-old from Portage has been causing havoc for goalies across the league with his net-front presence on the man advantage. He’ll look to do the same tonight against Levi Mitchell, and hopefully get on the scoresheet as well.
Steelers: Sheldin Howard
Howard was acquired by Selkirk from the Portage Terriers at the beginning of December and has become a regular in the Steelers lineup, as compared to his time with the Terriers when he wasn’t a regular. He notched a hat-trick in his rookie year against Steinbach last season and has been dangerous in both of his meetings against the Pistons for his new team.
WHERE TO WATCH
Catch tonight’s game on HockeyTV, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 pm.