It’s game 60 of 60 tonight for the Steinbach Pistons as they wrap up the 2019-20 regular season against a potential first round opponent in the Selkirk Steelers.
Steinbach will be looking to finish off the regular season on a winning note, while the Steelers are playing for their playoff lives this weekend.
The Pistons needed a win over the final week of the season to clinch the top spot in the regular season standings and did just that with a 9-3 win over the OCN Blizzard at the TG Smith on Wednesday night.
Tanner Mole and Zach Purcell each had two goals on the night to lead Steinbach in that category, while Kyle Bettens put up a goal and three assists, Bryce Young had a goal and two assists, and Rylan Bettens, Ryan Butler, Declan Graham, Ty Naaykens, Carter Loney, and Codey Behun each had two point nights.
Now that the Pistons have locked up the top seed in the MJHL playoffs, tonight’s focus, while also looking for two points to finish the regular season, may be to try and stay as healthy as possible for the upcoming postseason. Look for Head Coach Paul Dyck to potentially rest a few of his veteran players, which will give the opportunity for the younger talent on Steinbach’s roster to showcase their stuff and make their case to be included in the playoff lineup next week.
Steinbach will face either the Steelers, who are currently in 8th place; or the Winnipeg Blues, who are in 9th and just one point back of Selkirk, in the first round of the playoffs. It’s a do or die weekend for both teams as Selkirk faces the Pistons tonight and the Winkler Flyers on Saturday night, while the Blues take on the Dauphin Kings this evening and then the Blizzard on Sunday afternoon. The Steelers can clinch the #8 seed this evening with a win over the Pistons combined with a Blues loss to Dauphin.
The Steelers have lost eight straight games coming into tonight’s game, but three of those losses have come in extra time. They boast some talented young forwards that lead their team in scoring. 18-year-old Blake Burr has 28 goals and 52 points on the season, and 17-year-old rookie Caiden Gault has 25 goals and 47 points in 57 games. Second year d-man Eric Krywy leads Selkirk in defence scoring with 26 points in 52 games played.
Selkirk has gone with a goalie tandem since January with both Austin Deboer and Rory Dumelie getting around the same amount of games. Recently, Dumelie was in goal for Selkirk in their last outing against the Blues this past Tuesday, stopping 33 of 38 shots in a 5-4 OT loss to Winnipeg.
It’s virtually a must-win for the Steelers tonight while the Pistons will look to maintain their solid play going into the postseason. This recipe will make for an entertaining matchup tonight at the Selkirk Recreational Complex.
Pistons PP 21.3% (6th), PK 79.3% (6th)
Steelers PP 19.9% (7th), PK 84.6% (1st)
Steinbach have been lights out on the penalty kill as of late, killing off every single man advantage against them in their last six games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pistons: Thomson Phinney
Phinney will likely get the start tonight and he’s been a welcomed addition to a Pistons team that has struggled to keep a number #2 goalie this season. In six starts with Steinbach the Halifax native has been rock solid in the goal, sporting a 3-1-2 record with a 2.13 GAA, a .914 SV%, and one shutout.
Steelers: Brayden Clark
The former Pistons prospect has had a solid first season in the MJHL with the Steelers. Clark has registered 7 goals and 30 points in 56 games played this season, and put up two helpers in Selkirk’s last game against the Blues. He’s a solid two-way player that can lay the body on opposing players, while producing offensively on the top 6 for tonight’s home team.
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN
The puck drops at 7:30 pm at the Selkirk Recreation Complex; catch the game live on HockeyTV, or on the radio at MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com with Dave Anthony on the call.