It will be a battle of two of the top teams in the MJHL as the Steinbach Pistons make their way to Portage to face the Terriers tonight at 7:30 pm.
This will be the third meeting between the two rivals, with both sides winning in their home barn. Portage came back to win the first contest 4-3 in OT back on September 25th at Stride Place, while Steinbach took the last meeting 5-1 back on October 9th in what was arguably their best performance of the season thus far.
The Pistons and Terriers head into tonight both coming off of losses. The Pistons lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Neepawa Natives, a game that saw Kyle Bettens extend his point streak to 8 games by scoring both Steinbach goals Wednesday. The Bemidji State commit now leads the Pistons in scoring with 6 goals and 14 points, which vaults him into a tie for 8th on the MJHL scoring list.
Linemates Ty Naaykens and Carter Loney also carry point streaks into tonight’s contest, with both sitting at five games. Nik Anderson got his second start against his former team and played extremely well with 28 saves, including some incredible stops to keep the Pistons in the game.
Remember the struggles that Steinbach had on the penalty kill to start the season? Well those days are long gone now, as the Pistons have been stingy as of late with a man short. They’re up to 84.4% on the season, good enough for 3rd in the MJHL. They’ll need to be great again tonight against the top powerplay in the league in Portage.
The Terriers come into tonight’s action having lost two games in a row to the OCN Blizzard and the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Joey Moffatt continues to lead a balanced Portage attack, as he has 8 goals and 15 points, while Logan Christensen and Kolten Shindle have been providing good secondary scoring with 10 points each. Caelan McPhee leads the Terriers’ d-men with 13 points in 13 games this season.
Steinbach has faced Nathan Moore in goal twice this season. Moore is now the starter for Portage this season after splitting time in the crease last year when they advanced to the Centennial Cup. Don’t be surprised if Head Coach Blake Spiller calls upon back up Cole Johnston, as the rookie goalie is 4-0 this season.
Catch the game live on HockeyTV with the puck drop at 7:30 pm, or listen to MIX 96 and Steinabchonline.com with Dave Anthony on the call. The pre-game show begins at 7:15 pm.
Pistons PP 13.7% (9th), PK 84.4% (3rd)
Terriers PP 27.6% (1st), PK 90.5% (1st)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pistons: Zach Purcell
Purcell had multiple scoring chances against Neepawa on Wednesday but couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net. The Denver native is one of Steinbach’s fastest players and uses his speed and skill to generate a lot of looks on goal every game. Look for him to contribute tonight against the Terriers.
Terriers: Cody Thompson
The longest serving Terrier on the roster is Thompson, who is in his fourth year in Portage. He’s a presence on the blue line standing at 6’5” and is paired along with fellow 6’5” d-man Sam Huston. Thompson plays in all situations for Portage, he can shut down a top line while contributing offensively.