Two 2-0 clubs will lock horns tonight at the home of the 2020 Centennial Cup, as the Steinbach Pistons travel to Portage la Prairie to take on the Terriers tonight at Stride Place.
The long-time rivals split the season series during the 2018-19 regular season, with the Pistons winning the first three meetings and the Terriers taking the final three outings.
Steinbach has gotten off to a 2-0 start thanks to wins over Winkler Friday and Saturday night. The Pistons fought through the fog during their 2019 Home Opener, and Kyle Bettens scored the game-winner with under seven minutes to give Steinbach the win.
Then on Saturday night, K. Bettens and Max Neill would score a franchise record-tying two consecutive goals in nine seconds early in the second period to lift Steinbach to a 3-1 win in Winkler. Matt Lenz put forward one of the best performances of his MJHL career so far with 37 saves on Saturday.
The Terriers come into this season as the defending Turnbull Cup and ANAVET Cup winners, and picked up two 4-2 wins over the Winnipeg Blues to kick off the regular season. The strength for Portage is on the back end, as they have six returning defencemen from last year’s championship team including reigning MJHL Rookie of the Year Owen Murray.
Gone from last year’s team includes forwards Chase Brakel, Jay Bucholz, Reilly Funk, Jared Roy, and Ty Barnstable. But the returning crop includes talented young forwards Kolten Shindle, Logan Calder, and Reece Henry; and led by new acquisition Mackenzie Belinski, second-year Terrier Ocean Wiesblatt, and third-year forward Joey Moffatt, Portage should once again be in the mix for a top spot in the league.
Pistons PP 0/8, PK 9/9
Terriers PP 1/5 (20%), PK 12/13 (92.3%)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Pistons: Carter Loney
Loney has gotten off to an impressive start in his first full season with the Pistons, notching a goal and two assists against the Flyers this past weekend. The 17-year-old Winnipeg forward and University of Minnesota-Duluth commit has found some early chemistry on a line with Kyle Bettens and Zach Purcell. He looked dangerous every time he touched the puck against Winkler, and tonight should be no different.
Terriers: Mackenzie Belinski
The third-year MJHL forward was acquired by Portage just before the beginning of training camp from the Neepawa Natives. Belinski led the Natives in scoring last season with 48 points (21 G, 27 A) in 58 games played, and has gotten off to a quick start this year with two goals against the Blues on Sunday. He’ll be the one to watch tonight for Portage.