It was a tale of two different teams in one game for the Steinbach Pistons, who stumbled out of the gate in the first half but stormed back to send their home fans home happy in a 5-3 win over the Virden Oil Capitals on Sunday night.
In the first period, it was the Oil Capitals that came out pushing the pace and the tempo. The upbeat play earned Virden the first power play of the game and they capitalized making it 1-0 within the first five minutes. The Oil Capitals finished off the period strong, extending their lead to 2-0 with 1:40 remaining.
Things didn't go much better to start the second period as a turnover in the defensive zone, allowed Virden to make it a 3-0 game near the midway point.
After the break in the middle of the period, a different Pistons team came out. They started using their speed and started pushing back. After a couple hard working shifts in a row, it was Mack Graham getting Steinbach on the board with his 21st goal of the year as Tyler Anderson and Bradley Schoonbaert picked up the assists. The horn sounded with Virden clinging to a 3-1 lead.
In the third, the top team in the MJHL flexed their goal-scoring muscles. Will Koop, fresh off his showing at Team Canada West, notched his 10th of the year, cutting the lead to 3-2. Schoonbaert got credit for the lone assist on the goal and he wasn't done, it was Schoonbaert who set up Wyatt Hinson just over a minute later to tie the game at 3-3. For Hinson it was goal four on the year and his fourth goal in three games.
The scoring party continued as the teams leading scorer Mack Graham picked up his 22nd of the season with the assists going to Hinson and Schoonbaert who capped off a four point night and giving the Pistons their first lead in the game 4-3. Vaughn Dupre added the insurance marker with Jordan Bochinski grabbing the lone assist making it 5-3 and that's how the game would end.
Roman Bengert increased his win total to 20. Last season, Bengert totalled 25 wins. Between Bengert and rookie Matt Radomsky, the Pistons have the number 1 and 2 ranked goalies by the numbers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
The power play finished 0-6 while the penalty kill went 1-2. Steinbach out shot Virden 44-24.
Steinbach had the best record in the MJHL at the Christmas break, 28-5-1 and have won 7 of their past 8 contests. They have a 7 point lead on the second place team and have played one less game. The Pistons also lead the league in goal differential with +78 (144 goals for vs 66 goals against).
The Pistons will enjoy one of the longest holiday breaks in franchise history, 17 days between games. They next meet the Terriers in Portage on January 4th.
Mack Graham leads the team with 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists).
Bradley Schoonbaert had 4 assists. He has 42 points on the season (18 goals, 24 assists)
Wyatt Hinson has 8 points in 7 games as a Steinbach Piston.