After three straight wins to close out a four-game homestand this past week, the Pistons will hit the road for a crucial three-game-in-three-day road trip beginning tonight when they head to Virden to take on the Oil Caps.
Steinbach comes into the action tonight tied for 1st place in the MJHL with the Winkler Flyers. The good news is that they can’t move down in the standings regardless of tonight’s result.
The Pistons started off the homestand with a tough 6-3 loss on Remembrance Day afternoon to Winkler, but bounced back with a 3-2 win over Portage on Wednesday, a 6-2 victory against the Kings on Saturday night, followed by a 4-3 win over Waywayseecappo on Sunday.
Kyle Bettens was named an MJHL Star of the Week this past seven days, as he notched four goals and four assists over that four-game stretch. He along with Carter Loney received some good news Tuesday morning as they learned they’ll be a part of Team Canada West Selection Camp in Calgary for the upcoming 2019 World Junior A Challenge.
Zach Purcell has been on a hot stretch as of late, as the Colorado native has netted 7 goals in his past 9 games including the game-winner against Wayway on Sunday. And another forward who’s been solid is Bryce Young, who has notched 6 points in 6 games since joining the Pistons at the beginning of November.
Steinbach’s defence corp has been rounding into form as well but could see a boost this weekend as captain Declan Graham is close to a return to the lineup. Graham hasn’t played since October 25th due to a lower body injury. In 13 games this season, the fourth-year Piston has registered 9 assists.
The Virden Oil Capitals have played 26 so far this season which is the most in the MJHL. In comparison, Steinbach has played the fewest games in the MJHL with 21. The Oil Caps have had no troubles putting pucks in the net as they average 4 goals per game, which in the 2nd in the league. The troubles lie in keeping the puck out of their own goal, where they have given up 3.9 goals per game, third most in the MJHL.
They boast the MJHL’s second leading scorer in Kolten Kanaski, as the former Eastman Select has 10 goals and 36 points this season. Forwards Hunter Cloutier and Tanner Andrew have also been around the top 10 in scoring all season long, with Cloutier currently in 4th with 31 points and Andrew in 7th with 27 points.
Riley Wallace has gotten the majority of the games since veteran goalie Dalton Dosch was dealt to the Nipawin Hawks earlier this month, but it’s been new acquisition Kyle Kozma that has put up the better numbers in goal.
The lone meeting between the Pistons and Oil Caps this season came all the way back on September 28th where Codey Behun netted a shootout winner as the Pistons won 3-2. It should be another tight game tonight.
Pistons PP 18.8% (7th), PK 79.3% (5th)
Oil Caps PP 24.8% (4th), PK 77.8% (9th)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pistons: Codey Behun
The Pistons’ leading goal scorer has put together a five-game point streak coming into tonight’s game, registering 2 goals and 4 assists during this span. Behun has been Mr. Clutch this season for Steinbach, as 7 of his 11 goals have come in the third period or overtime. He usually shows up when it’s winning time.
Oil Caps: Owen Blocker
The Pistons didn’t see him in their lone matchup earlier this season, but Blocker is with the Oil Caps after spending four years in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He has 5 goals and 14 points in 18 games with Virden thus far, so look for him to be a difference maker against Steinbach during tonight’s game.
WHERE TO WATCH
Catch the game live on HockeyTV at 7:30 pm, or listen live on your radio at MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com with Dave Anthony on the call beginning at 7:15 pm.