The Steinbach Pistons dug themselves into a hole early in the second period, but stormed back to edge the Selkrik Steelers 3-2 at the TG Smith Centre on Wednesday night.
It was a big game for the first place Pistons and the third place Steelers and in the first, both teams really opened up the throttle and showed off some good speed. Chances went both ways but the goalies stood tall and the period ended with no scoring. Selkirk had the edge in shots 11-10 after 20 minutes.
In the second, the Steelers came out on a roll and scored two quick goals in just over two minutes of play. Steinbach answered back quickly. After a big hit from Carter Chorney, the forward picked up the loose puck and found a streaking Tyler Anderson who netted his 10th of the season. Anderson becomes the 8th member of the Pistons to hit double digits in goals this year. Chorney had the lone assist.
After they cut the lead, the Pistons kept pushing and were rewarded as good work down low from Tyson McConnell, Danny Pion and Wyatt Hinson (newly dubbed the MPH line), worked the puck free and McConnell got a little space and roofed a wrister to tie the game. A running joke around the Pistons locker room is McConnell's habit of scoring goals along the ice. "I can score in many different ways." McConnell said with a laugh after the game. For the Pilot Mound, MB product, it was his 13th of the year. Pion and Hinson were given assists.
In the third, both teams went back and forth looking for the goal to take the lead. Late in the third, a Pistons penalty gave Selkrik an opportunity. The Pistons penalty kill was fantastic and didn't allow much of anything in the way of chances for the Steelers special teams unit.
The Pistons used it as the momentum boost they needed.
Momenst after the penalty expired, Steinbach's Will Koop took a pass from Mack Graham and lead a rush into the zone. Defenceman Ryan Carlson turned on the jets and joined Koop, turning it into a 2 on 1. Carlson did a great job to stay onside and as he made his way to the net, everyone in the building thought Koop was going to pass, including the defender and goalie.
Koop didn't pass.
He snapped a wrister over the blocker and pushed Steinbach ahead 3-2. "It was a great pass from Mack and I had some room... I just closed my eyes and shot" Koop said with a laugh after the game. For the rookie scoring leader, it's goal 19 on the year. With Graham's assist on the goal, he increased his point total to 73.
It wasn't smooth sailing from there for the Pistons. Selkirk took a penalty with 2:30 to go, but the best chance came from Selkrik shorthanded.
Forward Jake Dudar, who scored the first goal of the game, found himself in all alone against Steinbach goalie Roman Bengert. With an important point in the balance, Dudar made a move that Bengert appeared to track all the way, but before Dudar could get a shot away, the puck rolled off his stick and harmlessly behind the net without any damage.
The final buzzer echoed through the arena and the Pistons collected their third straight win.
Steinbach's magic number to clinch first place in the MJHL is now 2. They will be on the road this weekend in a back to back battle with the Virden Oil Capitals. Both games will be on Mix 96 and SteinbachOnline.com with puck drop set for 7:30pm.