It was a hard-working, hang on late kinda night at Credit Union Place in Dauphin as the Steinbach Pistons held on late to come away with a big win over the Kings on Friday night.
Coming Out Hot
The Pistons came out and controlled the early stages of the opening period and were rewarded with a pair of goals in the first 10 minutes.
Steinbach hemmed in Dauphin several times and began to cut the rink in half which resulted in a power play.
After keeping the play alive along the boards in the Dauphin end, forward Brady Tatro made his way towards the net, taking the Dauphin defender with him as he seemed more interested in trying to get under Tatro's skin than trying to find the puck or stop the player that had it.
That player was Brendan Martin and the decision to leave him alone proved costly for Dauphin.
As Tatro drove the net, taking the defender with him, Martin was allowed to walk right down main street towards the net, made a little head fake before cutting across the crease and lifting a backhander that went bar down for an absolutely beautiful goal to make it 1-0.
For Martin, it was goal number 13 of the year. Troy Williams was given lone credit for an assist on the goal.
Less than a minute later, Steinbach cashed in again.
Easton Benett, coming back from missing two games with an injury, worked the puck up the boards and despite a Kings player getting as stick on the puck near the blue line, Bennett was able to keep it in.
He fired a pass across the blueline to another teammate making his return from injury, Curtis Ireland, who fired the puck towards the net. It was deflected behind the goal and picked up by Marcel Berube who, with Aiden Wagner driving the net, shovelled a pass out front.
The puck deflected off the Dauphin goalie and in for the forwards third of the year. Berube's goal was assisted by Ireland and Bennett and it had Steinbach in control in the first.
Dauphin picked things up in the second half of the first period and scored a power-play goal to cut the lead to 2-1 and that's how the period ended.
In the second, Steinbach struggled to get much of anything going on offence but despite the Kings carrying much of the play, strong defence and timely goaltending from Matt Lenz held the fort for the most part.
The Kings scored near the midway point of the second to knot the game at 2-2. Dauphin had the edge in shots 18-6 in the frame.
In the third, Steinbach struck with two quick goals that put them back on top.
First, a wrist shot from Tyson McConnell ramped off a defenders stick and slowed it up just enough to fool the Kings goalie as the captain put his team back up 3-2 with his 10th of the year. Jack Kilroy had the lone assist. Kilroy now has points in four consecutive games.
Another forced turnover at the Dauphin Kings blueline produced the eventual game-winner off the stick of Max Neil who broke in on a two on one, held the puck and fired a shot through the netminder for his 3rd of the year. Troy Beauchemin and Liam Anderson had the assists.
Another power play goal against put the Kings within one. Then things got a little crazy.
Final Minute Free-For-All
Steinbach, clinging to a one-goal lead with just over two minutes to go, took a minor penalty to go down 5 on 4.
Dauphin held off pulling the goalie till just about 90 seconds remaining. When the goalie came out, it was 6 on 4 with Dauphin controlling the play.
With only 42 seconds left in the game, Steinbach was called for another penalty putting Dauphin up 6 on 3.
Tyson McConnell, Boedey Vaeth, Troy Williams and Matt Lenz were called on to do the job and hold the lead.
With the Kings closing in, pushing closer and closer to the net, using the extra attackers to their advantage.
They worked the puck back to the point and a hard shot went flying towards the net but it would never make it. Williams got into the lane and fearlessly blocked it.
Steinbach would hold on and claim a big 4-3 win on the road.
The power play finished 1-2 while the penalty kill was 4-6.
Another Lesson Learned
Head Coach Paul Dyck was obviously pleased with the outcome but more so with the effort, his team put forth on Friday night. "We battled, especially near the end," the bench boss said after the game. "It maybe wasn't pretty but it's a win we earned. A win like that does a lot for our group. Sometimes you lose games you should win and sometimes you earn a win like this. We held on and I'm proud of our group."
Lenz Get's His Wish
Matt Lenz was solid in goal making 45 saves on the night. After the game, Lenz and teammates were laughing over something that happened after the first period.
As Lenz was coming off the ice after the opening 20 minutes of play, Lenz noticed the shots on goal were 18-12 for Steinbach. As he skated past the penalty box area, where the shots at Credit Union Place are counted, Lenz let the shot counter know he missed a shot or two.
At the end of the night, Dauphin finished with 48 shots. The man whom Lenz spoke to after the first, asked Lenz as he was coming off the ice if he was happy. Lenz replied with a big smile and a gleeful, yes.
Max Neil, who heard both conversations, couldn't help but laugh.
Four games in 7 days for the Pistons start on Tuesday vs the Winkler Flyers. The game will help raise money for Cancer research. The Pistons will wear specially made jersey's that will be auctioned off after the game with proceeds going to Cancer Care.
Thursday there's a trip up to Virden the sight of where the Pistons won the Turnbull Trophy last season.
The weekend has a pair of massive games on tap as two top tier teams, the Pistons and the Swan Valley Stampeders battle in back to back contests.