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ROAD REPORT – @ Winkler December 20

The Steinbach Pistons will conclude a four-game road trip tonight as they head to the Winkler Rec Complex to take on their Mennonite rivals in the Winkler Flyers.

The Pistons are in the midst of playing three games in four nights and are coming off of a 5-0 victory over the Neepawa Natives on Wednesday night.

Both Carter Loney and Dante Giannuzzi made their returns to the lineup on Wednesday, with the two picking up right where they left off. Loney, who was with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, notched a goal and an assist while Giannuzzi, who spent a week with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, stopped all 21 shots that came his way for his first MJHL shutout.

Rylan Bettens and Codey Behun also scored a goal and added an apple against Neepawa, and Tanner Mole and Ty Naaykens had the other markers for the Pistons. Both currently are on five-game point streaks; Mole has 6 goals and 3 assists during his streak while Naaykens has 3 goals and 3 assists in his current stretch.

This will be the fourth meeting of the year between the Pistons and Flyers, with Steinbach winning the first two matchups all the way back during the opening weekend of the season. Winkler won the last game between the two on Remembrance Day, scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to beat the Pistons 6-3 at the TG Smith.

The Flyers are solidly in the playoff picture, sitting in 5th place in the standings while playing the fewest games thus far along with Steinbach. Winkler has the best offense in the MJHL, leading the league by averaging 4.03 goals per game.

Defenceman Drake Burgin leads the team in scoring with 4 goals and 36 points, while forwards Jayden McCarthy and Sulivan Shortreed lead a very balanced forward group for Winkler. McCarthy has had a breakout season with 20 goals and 35 points, while Shortreed torched the Pistons in the playoffs (with the Blues) a year ago. He currently has 18 goals and 29 points on the year.

Dorrin Luding has been a workhorse in goal for the Flyers, sporting a 13-7-0 record with a .890 SV% and a 3.33 GAA in 23 games. He’s seen the net for all three meetings against Steinbach, so it would be no surprise if he gets the call again tonight.

It’s the final road game of 2019 for the Steinbach Pistons, and they hope it will result in them coming home with two important points.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Pistons PP 19.6% (7th), PK 77.3% (8th)

Flyers PP 20.6% (6th), PK 74.6% (10th)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Pistons: Tanner Mole

The hottest player on the Pistons right now, Mole has been on a roll as he’s up to 10 points on the season in 12 games. The big right winger and recent MJHL Star of the Week will look to take advantage of some inexperience on the Flyers’ backend, as they dressed three rookies in their last outing against the Portage Terriers.

Flyers: Nathan Poolman

In their last matchup, it was Poolman that stunned the Pistons by scoring two goals in 59 seconds late in the second period to give Winkler a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The smooth skating defenceman has been consistent for the Flyers with 21 points in 29 games. Look for him to be a factor tonight.

WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN

Catch the game live on HockeyTV, or listen your radio to MIX 96.7 and online at Steinbachonline.com with Dave Anthony beginning at approx. 7:15 pm.