The Steinbach Pistons only gave up 13 shots in the entire game and scored a goal in each of the three periods on route to a 3-1 win over the Neepawa Natives Monday afternoon at the MJHL Showcase in Winnipeg.
Steinbach came out strong in the opening period and had a number of good chances that were stopped or blocked.
Finally, the Pistons scored while on the power play as a shot from Kyle Bettens was blocked in front of the net, forward Brendan Westbrook found the loose puck and buried it for his 5th goal of the year. Tyson McConnell also picked up an assist on the opening goal.
In the second period, it seemed like Steinbach had the puck the entire 20 minutes of play.
Goalie Matt Lenz didn't see any action for long stretches as his team took control in front of him.
The lead grew in the second when Boedey Vaeth wristed home his 14th of the year to make it 2-0 Steinbach. The play got started as Tristan Culleton took a hit at the blueline to make the play to Vaeth who made no mistake. Brendan Martin picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
Steinbach had their chances and ended up outshooting the Natives 18-2 in the period. Neepawa didn't get their first shots on goal till slightly over two minutes remaining.
Culleton put the game away in the third as he wheeled out from the sideboards and into middle ice as he snapped off a shot that went top shelf for the defender's 2nd goal of the year an pushed the lead to 3-0. Jack Kilroy had the lone assist on Steinbach's final goal of the game.
Lenz's shutout bid was broken with just over a minute remaining as Neepawa cashed in on a power play to make it 3-1.
The final horn sounded and Steinbach walked away with two points.
The power play finished 1 for 6 while the penalty kill was 4 for 5. The final shots on goal were 36-13 Pistons.
Coach Graham Pollock spoke about his team's win after the game. "I mean, we outshot them by quite a margin but I don't think it's totally indicative of how the game went. We had a lot of zone time but they defended pretty well too. They were physical and I thought we rose to that occasion and responded well. Overall, a win's a win and we'll take that heading into Wednesday against Virden."
The league's number 1 penalty kill was on full display and caught the eye of Pollock for several reasons. "We were really solid, really aggressive. We never gave them a chance to set up and that's an indicator that our feet are moving. If we can keep doing that, we'll be okay."
Tristan Culleton has improved steadily all season long, as has all the defence according to Pollock. "Cully stepped in and he had a really nice one tonight but I thought all the guys were good. Cully and (Caydin Cleland) were really good but as a whole, our group of six was really solid. We didn't give up a whole lot in our zone. It speaks to the effort the d's are putting in and the forwards coming back and making sure guys are covered."
Steinbach will wrap up their part of the Showcase Wednesday evening against the Virden Oil Capitals and there's one specific word at the top of Pollock's list of things he wants his team to play with come Wednesday night. "Pace. I want to see us play with pace. We know they will push and we really need to play with pace, in their face, forecheck hard. They're not unlike us, they don't mind the physicality, they can score goals and it should be a fun game."