The Steinbach Pistons continue their tour away from the TG Smith on Saturday night when they travel out to western Manitoba to face the Virden Oil Capitals at Tundra Oil and Gas Place.
The Pistons are coming off of a 4-3 OT loss to the Portage Terriers Wednesday night, in a game that saw Steinbach at one point take a two-goal lead in the first period.
Like their last win versus Winkler last Saturday, Kyle Bettens, Max Neill, and Codey Behun had the goals against the Terriers. Bettens now has three goals in three games to start the season, and is tied for the team lead in points with fellow linemate Carter Loney (1G, 3A).
Two rookies that have stepped in and contributed offensively are Rylan Clemons and Tucker Hodgson. After sitting out the season opening game, Clemons has notched one assist in the following two games. The 18-year-old Hodgson has also picked up an assist in those games as well, all while playing big minutes down the stretch on Wednesday night.
Matt Lenz has gotten the start in all three games thus far in the young season and has been solid with a .924 SV% and a 2.31 GAA through those games. The Pistons are headed into a stretch of three games in four days with the MJHL Showcase coming up on Sunday. Expect to see Nik Anderson get some action over the next few days.
A point of emphasis for Head Coach Paul Dyck and the Pistons coaching staff will be special teams play. The Pistons are 0 for 11 on the man advantage, and gave up two power play goals to the Terriers. “Our power play was stagnant,” Dyck told Steinbachonline.com’s Dave Anthony after the game. “Portage did a great of applying pressure. Early in the year, we haven’t yet found our groove.
“It’s critical with those 10-15 seconds to get the puck, settle it down and set it up,” he continued. “We were never really able to do that.”
The Oil Capitals will be in action tonight against the Neepawa Natives before heading back to their barn to face the Pistons tomorrow. Their most recent game was a 5-4 OT loss to the Swan Valley Stampeders, but they defeated the Selkirk Steelers twice on opening weekend and now currently sit with the same record as Steinbach.
Hunter Cloutier got in on all four Oil Cap goals on Tuesday night, posting two goals and two assists. Cloutier leads Virden in scoring with five points on the season while Josh Belcher, Jack Einarson, and defenceman Jayden Wojcjechowski all sit with four points.
Both Oil Cap goaltenders have seen action thus far, with Dalton Dosch playing the opening weekend against Selkirk and Riley Wallace seeing the net versus Swan Valley. Dosch, the presumptive starter, played well against the Steelers only allowing three goals in those two games.
SPECIAL TEAMS (as of Friday)
Pistons PP 0/11 (0%), PK 11/13 (84.6%)
Oil Caps PP 4/16 (25%), PK 9/13 (69.2%)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pistons: Rylan Clemons
The Franklin, Michigan rookie forward has been dangerous all preseason and the two games he’s played during the regular season. Clemons has had maybe 7 or 8 high quality scoring chances that haven’t gone in. But as he continues to get looks around the net, he’s bound to bury one at some point. He’s impressed the coaching staff with his tenacity and hockey IQ, so look for him to make an impact tonight.
Oil Capitals: Kolten Kanaski
The captain of the Oil Capitals is entering his fourth season in the MJHL and is one of the top players in the league. He posted 62 points in 56 games played in 2018-19, and is flying under the radar to start with a goal and two assists through his first three games. Expect Kanaski to pick it up as the season rolls along.