The Steinbach Pistons scored four goals in the first 10 minutes of the game and never looked back as they dominated the Winnipeg Blues 9-3 on Friday night at the TG Smith Centre.
The coaching staff of the Pistons has been preaching quick starts all season long. Move pucks, use their speed and take the eyes of the goalie away by driving the net.
You can put a big ol' checkmark next to all three of those points.
The scoring parade started when as Steinbach was killing a penalty, Boedey Vaeth drove into the Blues zone and sucked both defenders towards him leaving team-leading goal scorer Brendan Martin all alone in front. Vaeth delivered the pass and Martin backhanded in his 20th goal of the year to make it 1-0.
Another special teams goal for Martin followed, only this time it was on the power play. After Troy Williams fired a pass over to Declan Graham, Graham hesitated just a second before firing a perfect low, hard pass towards the net which was tipped home by Martin for his 21st of the season and quickly put Steinbach up 2-0.
Save That Puck
While still in the first half of the first period, Pistons rookie defender Evan Kaufman floated a seeing-eye wrister from the point that beat Blues goalie Jeremy Link upstairs for the Winnipeg natives first career MJHL goal. Kyle Bettens and Graham grabbed the assist on the special goal which puck Steinbach up 3-0 and had the Blues reeling.
In his second game back from injury, Tanner Mole got back into stride offensively with a pair of goals.
The first was off a beautiful faceoff play where the centreman Tyson McConnell won the draw to Mole who dished a pass back to the point and then busted his behind towards the front of the net. The puck ended up on the stick of Doug Johnson who fired a shot through traffic that was deflected by Mole and in for his 11th of the season.
The goal was scored 9:43 into the first period, Steinbach's 4th goal on just 11 shots and it spelt the end of the night for Link who was pulled in favour of Jack Branby.
Mole wasn't done and scored again less than four minutes later when a point shot from Kaufman was knocked down in front and Mole quickly found the loose puck and deposited it into the yawning cage for his 12th of the year, pushing the lead to an impressive 5-0. McConnell grabbed his second assist of the period on the goal.
More Goals, Please
The scoring continued at an alarming pace as the Blues were finally able to get on the board near the midway point of the second period and cut the lead to 5-1.
Steinbach restored their impressive lead when Max Neil showed off amazing hands while on a partial breakaway as the rookie forward took a pass along the side boards, angled his way towards the net and cut left to right in what looked to be an attempt to try a deke but Neil showed great patience and strong wrists and snapped a shot blocker side, top shelf for his second goal in as many games and his 7th of the season. The goal was assisted by Troy Williams and Troy Beauchemin.
Birthday Boy Benny
Easton Bennett celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday night and with his family and friends watching back at home in North Dakota, the second year Piston put on quite a show.
With things starting to get a little chippy, Bennett went to make sure no Blues players had plans on taking any liberties with his teammates and at one point, hit a pile of players consisting of both Blues and Pistons players, knocking over one and sending a stick flying in the other direction.
When it looked like he might drop the gloves, the Pistons, led by Bettens broke out through the neutral zone and drove towards the net. Bennett showed great speed and awareness turning the play into a two on one. Bettens laid out a perfect pass the Bennett hammered home for his 6th of the season to push it to a 7-1 game.
Bennetts birthday goal also made sure all the fans in attendance would be getting pancakes. An in-arena promotion where if Steinbach scores 7 goals in a home game, those with a ticket can redeem for pancakes within seven days of the game.
But he wasn't done.
With under a minute to go in the second period, another great pass from Bettens hit Bennett going wide and he fired a laser through Branby for his second consecutive goal and 7th of the season. On the 8-1 marker, Graham capped off an impressive night with his third assist.
Bennet was all smiles after the game. "I always say, I'll have one productive game a year and it's on December 7th."
His close friend Declan Graham was quick to add, "good thing we had a game tonight."
Winnipeg scored just before the period came to an end to put a bit of a damper on the electric buzz in the arena but with the score 8-2 after forty minutes, fans, as expected, gave their team a big round of applause as they headed into the locker room.
One More, Just Because
Vaeth, who was a key part in getting the scoring started on the night finished it off for the home side as he slides a loose puck in from in front for his 13th of the year to cap Steinbach's scoring outburst at 9-2. Brady Tatro picked up an assist as he made his return to the lineup after missing two games due to a lower-body injury and Kaufman capped off his most productive night in his short MJHL career as he added his second assist to cap off a three-point night.
The Blues added another near the midway point of the third to make the score look a little better but not much as Steinbach out-competed their opponent every step of the way for one of their most complete and lopsided victories of the year, a 9-3 final.
Lenz Puts Up Another W
Matt Lenz continues to do little else put win and while he wasn't overly challenged early, Lenz did make a number of tricky saves. Head coach Paul Dyck was pleased his goalie battled through the tough stretches. "It's hard when a guy only see, what, six shots in the first period? I thought he might have fought a few pucks but he's a guy that get's better with shots. I thought he battled in there and that's just the kind of guy he is. He works very hard every game he's in there."
Lenz improved his record to 5-1 with a GAA of 2.45 and a SV% .923 this year.
The power play finished 1-3 while the leagues best penalty kill was again perfect going 3-3.
Ready, Set, Download
Declan Graham and Easton Bennett have teamed up to deliver fans a brand new experience, one unlike they've ever experienced. The two have started a podcast that will soon be available.
Fans have known both Bennett and Graham to be quite the personalities since coming to Steinbach and now will get to see that even more as they will interview teammates and give fans more access to the day-to-day life of being a hockey player in one of the top junior programs in the country.
Keep an eye on the Steinbach Pistons social media for the release of the new podcast.
Up Next - Showcase Time!
A rare one-game weekend for the Pistons as they have a couple days off because of the MJHL Showcase which starts on Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg.
Steinbach will have two games over the four-day event. They play the Neepawa Natives on Monday at 4:00 pm and then have the feature game on the Wednesday night to wrap up the whole event vs the Virden Oil Capitals.
The showcase is designed to give scouts from many different teams a chance to see all that the MJHL has to offer.