The Steinbach Pistons went into Stride Place Wednesday to take on the Portage Terriers without their full lineup but the team came together and gutted out an impressive 5-3 win to move back into a tie for the top spot in the league.
Heading into the game, the Pistons were missing four forwards, one from every line. Dawson Milliken, Ty Paisley, Nick Mikan, and Davin Griffin all sat out due to various reasons.
Steinbach did get a boost in the return of Davis Fry who made his way back into the lineup. Also, for the second game in a row, Jackson Kostiuk got the call-up and made his way into the lineup. Because of need, Spencer Penner played forward for the game.
Early in the first, Steinbach showcased what their game plan would be for the night. They clogged up the neutral zone, not allowing Portage any speed, they dumped pucks in and showed a willingness to be physical.
Landon Roberts set the tone throughout the night but especially early with some hits along the boards.
Just over five minutes in, Travis Hensrud, who had been mired in a three-game pointless streak, snapped out of it by scoring his 27th goal of the year to make it 1-0. Hunter Degelman was credited with the lone assist.
Forward Kirk Mullen came within inches of extending the lead as the newest Piston, Parker Jasper, walked in from the blue line and fed a wonderful pass to Mullen that just missed being tapped home.
Late in the period, a faceoff won in the offensive zone gave Kostiuk a chance to win a puck battle, which he did, putting a pass to the point for Noah Szabo who fired home his 3rd of the season to extend the lead to 2-0.
For Kostiuk, it was his first MJHL point. After the game as he was being dropped off, the team made sure to congratulate him and all the players on the bus gave the 16-year-old a round of applause.
As the period went on, Steinbach stuck to their game plan and limited chances against them. Portage did manage to hit a pair of posts in the frame but with a little help from his friends in red, Cole Plowman finished the period a perfect 8/8.
In the second, the respective power plays took over and needed very little time to do damage.
Steinbach took a penalty less than a minute into the second. Less than 10 seconds into that power play, Portage scored to cut the lead to 2-1.
Leo Chambers had multiple golden chances to score in the first but just couldn't cash in but he made up for it in the middle frame, scoring after Brett Kaiser knocked a puck out of mid-air, and flipped a pass to the cutting Chambers who buried his 13th of the year. Ian Amsbaugh picked up the secondary assist.
The 3-2 lead didn't last long as on another power play opportunity for the Terriers they struck quickly again, this time just 11 seconds after the penalty took place, to cut the lead to 3-2.
Once again, it was Chambers responding for Steinbach, this time on a power play of their own. 8 seconds after a Terrier went to the box, Steinbach found the back of the net as Chambers finished off a gorgeous passing play for his 14th. Warren Clark and Brett Kaiser were given credit for the assists but Amsbaugh and Neo Kiemeny also deserve credit for doing their part in the 4-2 goal.
As time was winding down in the second, Clark picked off a Portage clearing attempt, marched into the zone, and found a cutting Amsbaugh who rocketed home his 14th of the year, capping off a tidy 3-point night for the 20-year-old. Kaiser also picked up his second assist on the 5-2 goal.
Portage would once again score on a power play in the third but that's as close as Plowman and the Pistons would let them get, 5-3.
Wave after wave of Terrier attack tried to get something going but strong defense from Parker Jasper, Josh Nelson, David Cote, and Langley Kruggel turned them away time and time again.
Plowman made 13 saves in the period to keep Steinbach up and get them two massive points. He finished the night making 33 stops in all.
Steinbach's power play was 1-1 while the penalty kill took a really hard knock on the chin, going 1-4.
Up next for Steinbach is a road contest against the Winnipeg Blues on Friday night in Winnipeg. The last time the two teams met, the Blues came out of the TG Smith Centre with a 4-1 win.