The Steinbach Pistons extended their winning streak to eight after defeating the Winnipeg Blues 6-1 on Wednesday night.
It was the Blues getting on the board first as just 1:08 into the game, Dale Goodbrandson converted on the power play to make it 1-0 Winnipeg.
Darby Gula (5) tied up the game less than five minutes later with Daniel McKitrick and Danny Pion getting the assists.
Steinbach started to take over the game as the period went on, using the cycle down low to generate chances eventually resulting in a power play.
Drew Worrad notched his 9th of the season on the man advantage as Gula and Bradley Schoonbaert had the helpers.
Just 36 seconds later, Will Koop (10) was parked out in front of the net and rifled home a Worrad pass to make it 3-1 Pistons. Mark Taraschuk had the other assist on the goal.
Before the period came to an end, Blues leading scorer and current MJHL player of the week Dexter Kuczek used his size and speed to drive the net but Piston's goalie Matthew Thiessen stood tall and made a huge shoulder save to get Steinbach to the break still up by two goals.
In the second, the Blues came out and forced the issue again getting a couple of opportunities but the Pistons survived the rush and began to force turnovers in the Winnipeg zone.
Off one such turnover, as Schoonbaert stripped a defender of the puck he went in with Koop on a 2 on 1, used Koop as a decoy before snapping a perfectly placed wrist shot top shelf to put the Pistons up 4-1. Schoonbaert has 18 goals in 19 games played.
The Blues made a goalie change after Jeremy Link allowed 4 goals on 24 shots.
New goalie Adam Swan didn't fare much better early on, as on just the second he faced, he allowed a goal off the stick of Curtis Ireland. For the Brandon native Ireland, it was his first in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and first as a Steinbach Piston.
It's a moment Ireland will always remember as he relives the goal. "The puck got rimmed up the wall and one of their forwards fumbled it and it came back to me. I kinda put my head down, ripped it and hoped for the best." The unselfish rookie wasn't concerned if it was tipped or went straight in. "Whatever, if it goes in, it's a goal for our team, that's all that matters."
The period came to an end with Steinbach up 5-1.
In the third, both teams traded chances before Brady Tatro (6) scored just over four minutes into the final frame. Gula picked up his third point of the night as Easton Bennett was also given an assist on the final goal of the game.
The horn sounded and the Pistons skated away with their eighth straight win and 16th victory in 19 games.
Tatro has been enjoying success in his first year in Steinbach but is quick to praise his linemates, Bennett and Tanner Mole. "Absolutely love (playing with them). We all play the same style of hockey, work hard, play the body and so far, we've been pretty successful."
Matthew Thiessen picked up the win as the Altona native finished with 20 saves. Thiessen is now 8-1 with a Goals Against Average of 2.19 and a Save Percentage of .910
The Pistons power play finished 1/4 and the penalty kill was 4/5. Steinbach had the edge in shots 49-21.
Road Trip Of A Different Kind
Steinbach does not see game action until Tuesday when they welcome in the Winker Flyers. With the time off, the team will be taking a trip down to Grand Forks and taking in what the University of North Dakota has to offer, including seeing former Pistons forward Cole Smith in action.
It's a trip that assistant coach Joey Moggach is looking forward to for a few different reasons. "It's a chance to get the guys together and joke around. Have some fun. We get to watch the pre-game skates for both teams and it can be an eye-opener for guys that haven't seen college hockey before. Then a practice, which is a lighter skate but it's neat to see the facility. To be able to take that in, it's special. The game itself is an experience, plus it's sold out. College hockey is fast and it's exciting. It'll really show the guys what the next level looks like. Guys getting to be around more, joke around and be around each other is really beneficial."
With two points each, Bradley Schoonbaert and Drew Worrad continue to lead the league in points-per-game average. Schoonbaert is tops with 40 points in 19 games (2.11 pg/g) while Worrad is second with 21 points in 10 games (2.10 pt/g).
Darby Gula continues to lead all defencemen in points with 26 and is tied for 8th in league scoring overall.
Will Koop has at least a goal in four straight games (5 goals 4 assists). He is also tied for 8th in league scoring with 26 points.
Doing The Job
As Tyson McConnell was heading down the hallway after the game, the question of what excites him more, scoring a goal or blocking a shot came up. McConnell gave that trademark smile and laugh before answering "I guess it depends on the situation. Gotta get the job done." McConnell had several blocks including a couple of key ones during a Blues power-play.
Vs. Winkler Flyers - Nov 14 @7:30
Vs. Portage Terriers - Nov 15 @7:30
@ Winkler Flyers - Nov 17 @7:30 (game available on Mix 96 and SteinbachOnline.com)
@ Portage Terriers - Nov 19 @6:30 (game available on Mix 96 and SteinbachOnline.com)