The Steinbach Pistons traveled to northern Manitoba and came back home with a pair of solid wins and a whole lot of confidence.
On Friday, the Pistons took on the Swan Valley Stampeders and while it took a while for the team to find some offence, once they did, they couldn't be stopped.
Prior to the game, it was announced that a trio of players would be returning after dealing with various injuries. Forwards Landon Roberts and Travis Hensrud plus goalie Dominik Wasik all returned and all made impacts.
The first period belonged to Wasik. As the team in front of him worked their way into the game, the Stamps pushed and put tons of pucks towards the net but Wasik stood tall.
Swan had a glorious opportunity to get the opening goal on a shorted 5 on 3 but some really strong penalty killing by Davin Griffin and the Pistons defenders kept it scoreless.
As the period went along, the two teams traded chances but thanks to Wasik who made 17 saves in the opening 20 minutes of play, the score was 0-0.
Swan did get on the board in the second period but after that goal against, Steinbach came to life and it showed results in the third.
Less than three minutes into the final frame, captain Dawson Milliken cashed in on a rebound to tie the game 1-1. Noah Szabo and Landon Roberts picked up the assists.
Nick Mikan would give Steinbach the lead as the forward caught everyone off guard by wrapping around the goal on his backhand and muscling in his 6th of the year. Leo Chambers and Hugo Larkin picked up the helpers.
The line of Milliken, Roberts, and Davis Fry then took over from there.
Roberts would give Steinbach some insurance as the 20-year-old continued to bully the Stamps in the offensive zone, eventually creating some space for himself to notch his 4th of the season. Fry and Milliken both collected the assists.
Fry would get into the goal scoring act as the 19-year-old sniper wired home his 11th of the season on a power play to make it a 4-1 game. Roberts and Langley Kruggel notched the apples.
Swan would cut into the lead on a power play of their own but Roberts put the game away with his second of the game, hitting the empty net for his 5th. Szabo picked up his second assist while Fry also capped off a strong 3-point effort.
"That was a statement game for Roberts" one on-looker remarked after the game. "Roberts is a beast."
Wasik finished with 36 saves on his way to his 8th win.
Steinbach's power play finished 1-7 while the penalty kill was a strong 7-8.
Saturday Night Special
After a strong performance the night before, the Pistons rolled the same lineup into The Pas to tangle with the West Division leading OCN Blizzard, putting on a clinic in the third to come away with a 3-1 win.
Much like the night before, the first period didn't produce any offence on either side because of some strong goaltending.
Wasik got his second consecutive start and while he wasn't tested as much as he was in the first period the night before, the 20-year-old from Colorado did make some tricky, timely saves on his way to a clean 11 for 11 opening period.
Again, like the previous night, a pair of penalties but Steinbach down two men to close out the opening period. Once again, Davin Griffin went to work as he along with Kruggel and Szabo managed to kill off the period and give Steinbach a chance to kill off the rest of the penalties to start the second, which the PK unit did.
Later on in the second, it was the opposition again getting on the board first but the lead lasted for just over a minute.
While on a power play, Langley Kruggel kept a puck in at the blueline and settled everything down with a heads-up hesitation play, freezing the Blizzard defenders in place. As they were mesmerized by Kruggle's quick decision to stop and wait for the play to develop, Kruggel slipped a pass to the slot for Landon Roberts who whipped a quick pass to Milliken who snapped off a beautiful shot between the goalie's shoulder and under the crossbar to tie the game 1-1.
A few minutes after knotting the game, it was again Nick Mikan who would give his team the lead.
Noah Szabo, who had an incredibly strong weekend, started the play off by knocking down a puck and keeping play in the Blizzard zone. The 18-year-old from St. Thomas, Ontario was able to slip a pass to the slot to Leo Chambers who quickly found Mikan open on the right side and Mikan made no mistake scoring his second goal in as many games to put Steinbach up 2-1.
For Mikan, it was his 7th goal of the season.
In the third, the Pistons played a text book road period while defending the lead.
Everyone bought in, taking some hits to make plays, backchecking, limiting any kind of OCN offensive attack, making sure pucks cleared the zone and when OCN did manage to get something on goal, the rebounds were knocked away, not allowing the Blizzard to gain any time of traction or momentum.
It was a clinic.
Steinbach only gave up 5 shots in the entire third period while up a goal.
Travis Hensrud sealed the victory scoring his 15th of the year into the empty net, putting Steinbach up 3-1. Ethan Johnson and Ty Paisley had the helpers on the final goal.
Wasik again was rock solid making 25 saves for win number 9.
The power play cashed in for the game tying goal, finishing 1-2 while the penalty kill was perfect, going 3-3.
Day Off, Down-Set-Hut
Steinbach will have the day off on Sunday as many players will get together to watch the Grey Cup. A number of players will be cheering on either the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or the Toronto Argos. Some may be in it just for the snacks.
The next game action won't be until Wednesday when they host the Winnipeg Freeze at the TG Smith Centre. Following that mid-week tilt, the Pistons will have a few days between games as the next time they are in action is Sunday when they welcome in the OCN Blizzard.