The Steinbach Pistons will look to put Thursday night’s loss behind them when they travel up north for a pair of games against the OCN Blizzard.
The Pistons were the better team for a lot of the play against the Virden Oil Capitals, but the home team struck late in the second period and netted three goals in the final four minutes of the game to salt Steinbach away 5-1.
The boys in blue saw the return of two regulars in Declan Graham and Rylan Bettens, and Bettens made his mark as he notched the only Pistons goal last night.
Matt Lenz had his 11-game win streak in goal snapped with the loss yesterday. The Grapevine, Texas native hadn’t lost in the crease since October 5th, but he remains the top goaltender in the MJHL with a .924 SV%, a 2.14 GAA, and a league high 15 wins.
An area of concern that is popping up again for Head Coach Paul Dyck and the Pistons’ coaching staff has been the penalty kill. At one point in November Steinbach was up to 3rd in the league on the PK after struggling to start the season, but the Pistons have now allowed a power play goal in five straight games. That will need to change if they want to have success this weekend.
Standing in front of the Pistons tonight is a tough test in the OCN Blizzard, and they’ll be playing in one of the toughest places to play in the MJHL at the Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre. The Blizzard sit just outside of the top 8 in the league standings in 9th, two points back of the Dauphin Kings.
OCN snapped a five-game skid this past Sunday with a 4-2 win over the Natives in Neepawa. They are led by defenceman Darren Gisti and forward Boston Bird with 17 points each. They’ll also have to deal with forward Ryan Butler, who started off his tenure with OCN by putting together an eight-game point streak. He’s cooled off a bit but netted two goals in their win over Neepawa.
The Blizzard have gone with a goalie tandem this season, with 19-year-olds Danick Rodrigue and Zack Cloutier mainly splitting time in the crease this season. It’s likely that the Pistons will see both OCN netminders for these two games.
Pistons PP 18.1% (T-7th), PK 78.9% (5th)
OCN PP 15.2% (9th), PK 71.4% (11th)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pistons: Bryce Young
Young is back home in The Pas this weekend, and he’ll be looking to impress the hometown crowd. Young spent a part of the 2017-18 season with the Blizzard, and he returns averaging just under a point a game with the Pistons (6 points in 7 games). With family and friends in attendance, look for Young to have a big weekend.
Blizzard: Darren Gisti
Gisti possesses one of the hardest shots in the MJHL, and he’ll let it go from anywhere on the ice. He leads the Blizzard with 17 points, but where he’s most dangerous is one the man advantage as he leads his team with 4 power play goals. Look for Gisti to be a factor during this weekend.
WHERE TO WATCH
Catch this weekend’s games online at HockeyTV, or on your radio dial at MIX 96 with Dave Anthony on the call. The pre-game show begins at 6:45 for both games.