While the MJHL playoffs came to an unexpected end due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2019-20 season for the Steinbach Pistons was full of great games and moments throughout the year. It’s time once again to piece together our picks for the annual top 10 moments from the season that was.
These are a few that just missed getting on our list for this season.
Ty Naaykens, Kyle Bettens combine for 9 points against Blues (January 28th)
It was a big night for both Ty Naaykens and Kyle Bettens against the Winnipeg Blues on January 28th. Naaykens put up the best single game performance by a Piston during the season with 2 goals and 3 assists, while linemate Bettens also dominated with 2 goals and 2 assists in an 8-2 win for Steinbach over Winnipeg.
Carter Loney’s Natural Hat-Trick vs. Waywayseecappo (October 18th)
The MJHL Rookie of the Year’s eyes lit up every time he played the Wolverines at the TG Smith Centre, as Loney put up 4 goals and 1 assist in three games against Wayway on home ice. That was highlighted by a natural hat-trick during the first back on October 18th.
#10 – Pistons Defeat Terriers 2-1 in Battle of MJHL’s Top Two Teams (January 8th)
A lot was riding on this game as the Terriers made their way to the TG Smith for the final time in 2019-20. These two sides were in a battle for first place and the Pistons were looking to lock up the season series and grab the all-important tiebreaker. Plus, it was also the final game before the MJHL trade deadline, so potential changes were looming over both squads.
Steinbach and Portage showed why they were the top two teams in the MJHL and brought their ‘A’ game in that contest with crisp passing and tons of offensive chances. However, goalies Matt Lenz and Noah Giesbrecht stole the show and made it a goaltender duel throughout the night. The Terriers would score on the PP in the first period, but Steinbach would get two goals in 30 seconds from Rylan Bettens and Kasyn Kruse to grab the lead in the second period.
Lenz would get the last laugh as he was spectacular in the final three minutes to hand Steinbach a hard-earned 2-1 win and the season series tiebreaker over Portage.
#9 – Largest Comeback of Season: Pistons Beat Wayway 4-3 At MJHL Showcase (October 1st)
It was mostly a struggle for the Pistons at the 2019 MJHL Showcase in Winnipeg. After a tough 4-1 loss to the Selkirk Steelers on September 30th, Steinbach were dominated in the first period the next day by the Wolverines and were down 3-0 after 20 minutes.
It takes a little break for a comeback to start, and the Pistons got it when Waywayseecappo took two straight penalties in the second period to start a 5-on-3 PP. Rylan Bettens got Steinbach on the board on that man advantage with the all important first goal, and then Curtis Ireland wired a slap shot from the point to bring the Pistons to within a goal.
Jack Kilroy tied the game minutes into the third period with a tip-in goal. And then Codey Behun ended the game in overtime on the power play to give the Pistons the 4-3 win in what would end up being their biggest come-from-behind victory of the season.
#8 – Bryce Young Returns to OCN – (November 22-23)
It was a homecoming for the The Pas native Bryce Young, who was playing his first game back in his hometown in two years. Around 60 of his family and friends came to cheer him on throughout the weekend, and the Pistons would come away with two victories over the OCN Blizzard.
There was a buzz in the building every time Young touched the puck throughout the two games, and he finished with three assists over the weekend.
After the game on Friday night, a cool scene unfolded as all of his family and friends made their way onto the ice for a group photo with him at centre ice. Pistons staff and players who saw it happen said it was an amazing moment, and something that doesn’t occur very often in junior ‘A’ hockey to have a player from a road team get that much support.
#7 – Pistons Beat Wolverines on Cancer Care Night – Mole Scores Shootout Winner (November 29th)
This was yet another fantastic game during the season between the Pistons and Wolverines. This one came on the final game of November as Steinbach was hosting their annual Cancer Care night at the TG Smith Centre, which meant that they were wearing special edition jerseys that were being auctioned off for cancer research after the final buzzer.
The Pistons never trailed in the game but led by a goal the entire night. Bryce Young (2) and Troy Beauchemin scored for Steinbach only for Wayway to reply after each Pistons goal.
It would go into a six-round shootout, and in his first game back from a lower body injury that had kept him out of the lineup for most of the year up until that point, Tanner Mole would be the hero on that night. He slipped the puck through the five-hole of Liam Tereposky to give the Pistons a 4-3 win and send the fans home happy.
#6 – Beauchemin Scores Shootout Winner – Pistons Beat Steelers in 12 Round Shootout (January 7th)
The Pistons played a franchise record 17 extra time games during the regular season, meaning they went to OT or a shootout approximately once every three games.
This matchup was the most entertaining of those games, as Steinbach jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Selkirk Steelers in the first period thanks to goals by Tanner Mole and Bryce Young. But the Steelers clawed their way back into the contest and tied the game at 2 with 5:30 left in regulation.
Selkirk’s Carter Barley scored the opening goal of the shootout in the first round, but Codey Behun tied things up in the third round to keep the Pistons alive. The next 17 shooters couldn’t beat Matt Lenz or Levi Mitchell, but Troy Beauchemin stepped onto the ice in the 12th round and beat Mitchell to give Steinbach the edge. Lenz shut the door on the Steelers’ next shooter to give the Pistons the extra point.
5) The Fog Bowl (Hockey Edition) – Pistons Beat Flyers on Opening Night (September 20th)
It was a humid, rainy September night outside the TG Smith as the Pistons prepared to host the Winkler Flyers for their 2019-20 home opener. In fact there was so much humidity outside in Steinbach, that indoors it created a layer of fog over the ice surface, which made things difficult to see for both of the teams and the fans in the building.
There was some consideration given to call off the game, but both teams ended up hitting the ice for the 7:30 pm start. Steinbach grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to Jack Kilroy and Carter Loney, but the Flyers would get two goals in the second period to level the score heading to the third.
Kyle Bettens would net the game-winning goal with 6:34 left in regulation on a wicked wrist shot that beat Flyer goalie Dorrin Luding, and the Pistons started off the season on the right foot with a 3-2 win over Winkler through the fog of the TG Smith.
4) Zach Purcell’s Hot Streak – 15-Game Point Streak, 22 Goals in Final 19 Games
Through the final two months of the regular season, you could make the argument that there was no better player in the MJHL than Zach Purcell over that stretch.
The Colorado native caught fire in the new year, and stayed on fire until the end of the regular season. He went from having 12 goals on January 14th to finishing with 34 goals at the end, good for 3rd overall in the MJHL. That’s a total of 22 goals in his final 19 games.
Purcell also tied a Pistons franchise record co-owned by Dan Taillefer and Tyler Anderson, putting together a 15-game point streak from January 14th-February 21st. The player his teammates call ‘Teddy’ hopes to continue his hot play as he’s eligible to return to Steinbach next season.
3) Pistons Clinch Regular Season Title (February 26th)
The Pistons were in a tight battle with the Terriers for the top spot during the final month of the regular season. Steinbach had just ended a three-day road trip that saw them only win once on the weekend, however they took 4 of a possible 6 points due to a couple of overtime losses.
The team needed just a win over their final two games of the season to clinch the regular season title and got that victory with a convincing 9-3 performance over the OCN Blizzard. Kyle Bettens led the way with a goal and three assists, Zach Purcell had two goals and an assist, while Bryce Young had a goal and two assists.
Tanner Mole (2), Carter Loney, Rylan Bettens, and Max Neill also did the goal scoring for the Pistons as they celebrated in front of their home fans to lock up the top seed heading into the MJHL playoffs.
2) Pistons Become Only Team to Advance to Second Round – Game #4 vs Blues
After an emotionally and mentally draining performance the night before (we’ll get to that in just a bit), the Pistons got right back on the horse for Game #4 and looked to sweep the Winnipeg Blues out of the first round of the playoffs at the Rink Training Centre.
Steinbach dominated play from start to finish, outshooting Winnipeg 19-4 in the first period, 39-20 for the game, and defeated the Blues 5-0 in Game #4. Rylan Bettens led the way for the Pistons all series, and he did again on that night with two goals and an assist. Christian Riemer had a goal and an assist, while Declan Graham had two helpers as well. Matt Lenz recorded his first playoff shutout, capping a solid series for him as he only allowed three goals in the entire series.
With the unfortunate events transpiring around the world during that night and into the next two days, Game #4 would wind up being the final game of the season for the 2019-20 Steinbach Pistons, as the league cancelled the remainder of the playoffs that Friday morning.
That meant that the Pistons would be the only team to advance to the MJHL semifinals out of the remaining seven teams left in the postseason.
1) Christian Riemer’s Triple Overtime Winner Caps Longest Game in Pistons History – Game #3 vs Blues
Game #3 is considered a crucial swing game in any best-of-7 series. With the Pistons leading 2-0 heading into the third game at the TG Smith Centre, it was a virtual must-win for the Blues to try and get back into the series.
After a scoreless first period, Winnipeg got the first goal of the game midway through the second. Tanner Mole would tie things up on a deflection off of a point shot from the slot three minutes into the third period. The game would stay deadlocked at a goal apiece and the game was off to sudden death overtime.
After a scoreless 10-minute first overtime and 20-minute double overtime, Game #3 would require a third extra session. Cue the heroics of Christian Riemer as he threw a shot on goal from the left point that found its way through a crowd and into the back of the net, sending the TG Smith Centre fans into the frenzy.
Riemer’s goal came at the 1:02 mark of the third overtime period and ended up as the longest game in Pistons history with 91:02 of game-time, surpassing the previous high of 90:43 on March 26, 2017 against the Portage Terriers. In the end, the overtime winner gave the Pistons a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 and all of the momentum to close out the series a day later.
Thanks for looking back with us on the 2019-20 season that has come and now unexpectedly gone. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy and we hope to be back on the ice soon!