Mark Taraschuk posted one goal and two assists, and Matthew Thiessen made 30 saves for his second shutout in his first two playoff starts as the Steinbach Pistons are one win away from moving onto the second round with a 6-0 win over the Swan Valley Stampeders.
Will Koop and Drew Worrad also added 2 assists for the Pistons, who will go for the series sweep tomorrow. They have been controlling play in their offensive and defensive zones all series long, only allowing one goal in three games while scoring 14 goals.
Head Coach Paul Dyck was really impressed with Taraschuk’s Game 3. “He was really, really good tonight,” he said. “He was rock solid back there, and was a real stabilizing influence for us once again plus chipping in with some offence as well.”
The start was a sluggish one, with both teams feeling each out after two days without playing against each other. The Pistons caught a break when Taraschuk got a shot blocked by a stick, and the puck floated up in the air towards Evans. The Swan goalie tried to catch it, but dropped it right onto the stick of Braden Purtill. The captain made no mistake for his 2nd of the series, with Taraschuk picking up the lone assist at 9:03 of the first period. After that, the Pistons took a firm grip on the game and started to push for more goals, outshooting Swan 19-7 in the first.
Steinbach grabbed two goals in 46 seconds to begin the second period, the first with great work from the Tatro-Bennett-Mole line. Tanner Mole fed a great pass to a wide-open Tatro, and he one-timed the puck past Evans for a 2-0 lead at the 4:03 mark of the second. Bennett added the other assist on Tatro’s first of the playoffs. Then Bradley Schoonbaert fired the puck past Evans on a 2-on-1 break at 4:49. Worrad and Taraschuk picked up helpers on Schoonbaert’s first of the playoffs.
Taraschuk scored his first of the playoffs, and third point of the game when a seeing-eye shot found its way past everyone for a 4-0 Steinbach lead. Will Koop and Curtis Ireland picked up the assists with 1:47 left in the second period.
Daniel McKitrick snapped a short-side shot past Evans on a Steinbach rush for his first of the playoffs from Koop and Mark Wilson at 8:43 of the third period. And Austin Heidemann capped scoring for the Pistons, when he fired a wrist shot past Evans. Drew Worrad picked up the assist on Heidemann’s 2nd of the series at 16:34 of the third.
Coach Dyck said that the defensive play has fuelled the Pistons’ offence, which has been the key to Steinbach’s success thus far in this series. “We want to build on this, and number four is always the toughest one. But I expect our team to be prepared, and our goal is to finish this series off.”
The Pistons went 0 for 1 on the power play, and killed off all 4 penalties they faced.
During a lengthy stay in the Pistons zone during a Swan Valley power play, Mark Wilson took a hard shot to the face blocking a shot. He left the game briefly, but did return to action in the third period sporting a full cage. Brendan Martin took a high hit during a Pistons power play, and made his way to the bench. He left the game shortly after, and did not return. Dyck was not sure of the status of Martin going forward.
UP NEXT: Swan Valley’s season is on the line tomorrow night at Game 4 goes at 7:30 pm in Swan River. You can listen to the game on MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.ca with Dave Anthony, with the pre-game show beginning at 7:10 pm. You can watch the game with a subscription to HockeyTV as well.