Now that the 2020 MJHL/SJHL Showcase is in the books, the push for the playoffs begins for the Steinbach Pistons as they travel to northwest Manitoba to take on the Waywayseecappo Wolverines on Saturday night, followed by a Sunday matchup with the Swan Valley Stampeders.
The Pistons haven’t been in action since last Saturday as they picked up a crucial two points with a 6-2 win over a hot Virden Oil Capitals group. The offence broke out for Steinbach that night as Zach Purcell led the way for the Pistons with two goals, while Kyle Bettens returned from an injury and notched three assists in his first game since December 15th.
In his first home game as a Piston, Ryan Butler notched a goal and an assist, and both Carter Loney and Ty Naaykens registered multi-point nights. Matt Lenz also had a solid night in goal with 26 saves, earning the Grapevine goalie’s league leading 22nd win of the season.
They’ll look to continue that momentum into this weekend’s trip starting on Saturday night versus the Wolverines, whom Steinbach has a 4-1-0 record against this season. Expect to see Thomson Phinney get some action in net, who could potentially get the start against his former team in Waywayseecappo tonight.
Pistons PP 18.9% (8th), PK 76.5% (10th)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Kyle Bettens
The Bemidji State commit was a welcome addition for the Pistons last Saturday against Virden, injecting another offensive weapon into the Steinbach lineup. The smooth-skating Bettens now has 34 points in 32 games played this season, and he’ll need to keep up his consistency this weekend. He has a goal and four assists against the Wolverines this season, and two points against Swan Valley.
@ WAYWAYSEECAPPO January 25th – 7:30 pm
The Wolverines have been struggling lately, losing 7 of their past 8 games dating back to December 17th and have slipped to 6th place in the standings.
Offence hasn’t been the problem for Wayway as they’ve put up 158 goals this season (4th in MJHL). It’s been their defence that’s caused them troubles as they have allowed 158 goals (4th most in MJHL). They’ve also allowed an average of 4.1 goals against in their recent eight game cold spell.
The last meeting between these two teams came back on Cancer Care Night at the TG Smith when Steinbach defeated Waywayseecappo 4-3 in a shootout. Bryce Young notched a couple of goals while Tanner Mole scored the shootout winner in the sixth round to give the Pistons the extra point. That game was also Mole’s first action in the lineup as he was injured for the previous two months.
Jaymes Knee is the team’s leading scorer with 14 goals and 42 points in 41 games this season for Wayway, while Rayman Bassi is right behind him with 13 goals and 38 points. Nick Doyle is their top scoring defenceman with 35 points in 44 games. And 20-year-old goalie Colin Ahern has played in all four games with Waywayseecappo since being acquired at the trade deadline, going 1-2-1 with a 3.22 GAA and an .882 SV% with one shutout.
Wolverines PP 21.7% (5th), PK 76.8% (9th)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Conrad Phillips
Phillips impressed at the Showcase on Tuesday and Wednesday, scoring a goal in each game he played in while showcasing his speed and grit. The Camrose, Alberta native has scored 17 goals and notched 36 points this season and has a goal and three assists in the season series against Steinbach this season. He’s the one to watch for the Wolverines.
@ STAMPEDERS January 26th – 6:00 pm
The Swan Valley Stampeders currently sit in 4th place in the MJHL standings, and they are coming off a 5-3 loss to the Portage Terriers on Thursday night. They’ve changed their bench boss midway through the season as Barry Wolff has stepped back in as Head Coach to guide the Stampeders down the stretch. Swan will be in action tonight as they take on the Dauphin Kings.
Steinbach has only seen Swan Valley twice in 2019-20, with the teams splitting a two-game weekend set back on December 6th and 7th at the TG Smith. The Stampeders scored four power play goals en route to a 5-2 win the first game, and then Kyle Bettens was the overtime hero in a 3-2 extra time win on the 7th.
Swan is led in scoring by rookie forward Luke Beerman with 14 goals and 40 points in 44 games played, followed closely behind by Trevor Schroder with 38 points and both Nathan Carl and Tommy Cardinal with 35 points.
Previous leading scorer Mattias Dal Monte was traded back to the BCHL at the trade deadline. The Stampeders are now led on the back end by John Jebamani with 5 goals and 25 points in 41 games, and Swan River native Lane Kirk sits behind him with 2 goals and 16 points.
Mikael Foucher has been excellent in goal for Swan as he sits behind Matt Lenz in some major goalie stats categories with a 2.80 GAA and a .912 SV% amongst all qualified goalies in the MJHL.
Stampeders PP 27.2% (2nd), PK 81.4% (3rd)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryley Lanthier
Lanthier has been a point per game player since arriving to play with the Stampeders at the beginning of December. The Surrey, B.C. product is currently Swan’s hottest player as he’s just coming off of a six-game point streak with a total of 8 markers in that span.
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN
You can watch both games online at HockeyTV, or listen to both on your radio to MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com with Dave Anthony on the call.