Content Provided By: Steinbach Online
After back-to-back losses, the Pistons responded with a pair of strong team efforts resulting in wins over the Blizzard and the Virden Oil Capitals over the weekend.
Stars of the Night featuring Plowman and the Penalty Killers
Friday saw the Pistons jump out to a 4-0 lead through two periods, eventually winning 5-2 thanks to five different goal-scorers, many penalty kills, and some timely saves from Cole Plowman.
Before the puck drop, parents from many of the players were brought out and honored on the ice as the organization celebrated parents’ night.
In the first, both teams worked their way into a rhythm. The Blizzard, a team known for their solid structure, did exactly that, making it difficult for the Pistons to break through while also transitioning up ice quickly in search of their chances.
20-year-old Cole Plowman who was coming off a very impressive game at the MJHL/SJHL Showcase earlier in the week, wasn’t overly tested but made all the saves he was supposed to going 10 for 10 in the first.
Shane Burns put Steinbach on the board as the rookie defender walked in from the blue line and sifted a shot through traffic for his second of the year. Brett Kaiser and David Cote had the assists.
With under 5 seconds to go in the period, an offensive zone faceoff set play put them on top 2-0 after Grady Hoffman won the draw back to Leo Chambers who leaned on a shot from the slot that made its way through the Blizzard goalie for the captains 16th of the year.
Shots were 10-6 Blizzard after the first and the Pistons were 2-2 on the penalty kill.
In the second, Jamie Fuchs drove the net and had a point shot from Liam Doyle bank off his lower body and in for his 13th of the campaign. Noah Szabo secured his 28th assist with the secondary helper.
After killing three penalties to that point in the game, the Pistons were given their first power play and they did not miss.
Doyle sniped his 4th of the year after some great work by all the Pistons in the Blizzard zone helped create the goal. Kaiser and Szabo were given credit on the assists for the 4-0 marker.
A massive opportunity for the Blizzard a few minutes later as two pistons were called for separate penalties on the same shift giving the visitors a 5 on 3 for a full two minutes.
Plowman and the penalty killers stood tall. Big blocks, clearing lanes, massive saves, and killed off the entire advantage without giving up a goal.
After two periods, Steinbach was up 4-0 and 4/4 on the penalty kill with their 5th carrying over to start the third.
Early in the third, the Blizzard finally got on the board during that power play to cut the lead to 4-1.
With just over five minutes to go in the game, the Blizzard managed to sneak a shot past to cut the lead to 4-2.
Jackson Kostiuk would give Steinbach some breathing room after Kirk Mullen bodied off a Blizzard trying to cut through the neutral zone, Kostiuk took the loose puck, broke in all alone, and made no mistake scoring his 5th.
The rest of the period went by without much entertainment which was just fine for the home side who saluted the crowd after a 5-2 win.
While spending most of the night shorthanded, the penalty kill went a very impressive 8-9 while the power play finished 1-2.
Sundays are for Statements
In a battle of the top teams in their respective divisions, the Pistons were led by Cole Plowman who earned the shutout after making 29 saves and some late-game heroics to put up a 2-0 win over the Virden Oil Capitals.
In the first period, the Oil Caps had a chance to open the scoring with a power play less than a minute in. Steinbach and Plowman were able to stand tall and keep it scoreless in the early stages.
While Friday was for parents, Sunday afternoon was a time to celebrate the billet parents of the Pistons. All came onto the ice and were given a gift on behalf of their billet.
The game was hyped as a big-time battle between two of the top teams in perhaps the Canadian Junior Hockey League and they did not disappoint.
At one point, Virden had a 5-1 shot advantage in the first three minutes. The Pistons took over the rest of the period.
Wave after wave of pressure continued to put the visitors on their heels as all four lines rolled providing a hard and fast forecheck. All six defenders moved pucks not only quickly but extremely accurately, hitting many players in stride and allowing them to move into the offensive zone with speed or chip a puck and then chase, forcing the Oil Caps into some quick decisions that more often than not turned into turnovers.
Steinbach took over the shots lead after the first, 9-5 but it remained a scoreless draw after one.
In the second, more pressure from Steinbach as they looked to get on the board first but were turned away after a couple of good chances.
The game began to balance out a bit and Plowman would be tested several more times in the second than he was in the first.
Virden had two chances on the power play in the middle frame but again, Plowman and the penalty killers were up to the task, turning away both chances and keeping it scoreless.
Shots were 16-15 Pistons after forty minutes.
In the third, the back-and-forth track meet continued with both goalies standing tall.
Finally, with just over five minutes to go in the game, Trey Sauder forced a turnover below the goal line, Brett Kaiser fished a puck out and found a wide-open Kirk Mullen who buried his 20th of the year putting the home side up 1-0.
As time ticked away, Plowman held the fort until the team was able to clear the zone. Three Pistons had a chance to put the game away with an empty net goal but all three missed either hitting a post, the side of the net, or having their shot blocked.
Liam Doyle would not be denied as he scored his 5th of the year and second in as many games, securing the 2-0 lead. Jamie Fuchs and Leo Chambers had the assists.
The horn sounded signaling a Pistons win and an altercation afterward kept both teams on the ice yelling at each other for a few moments after the game was over.
Virden eventually departed and the Pistons saluted another great crowd at the HyLife Centre after a 2-0 win.
Plowman’s shutout was his third of the season. He leads the MJHL in wins with 24, he’s first in goals against average with 1.83, and first in save percentage at .933.
The MJHL’s top-ranked penalty kill was perfect going 3-3 while the Pistons were 0-1 on the power play.
Not a lot of rest is upcoming for the Pistons who will travel to Selkirk on Tuesday to battle the Steelers who are pushing to get into the playoffs. Friday night, the team travels to Winnipeg to take on the Blues before a return matchup on Saturday with Selkirk but this time in La Broquerie.