The Steinbach Pistons defeated the Dauphin Kings 3-1 on home ice Saturday night to push their winning streak to three games including two straight to start 2019.
Despite playing the night before, it was the visiting Kings that came out flying, out skating and out-working the Pistons in their own zone, forcing a few turnovers that resulted in good chances that were turned away by Matt Radomsky.
Both teams put 8 shots towards the net but neither team scored.
In the second, the Kings got on the board as another turnover in the d-zone gave Dauphin a great chance in the slot that was stopped by Radomsky. The rebound was available and all 5 Pistons got caught puck watching as the Kings slipped it into the open side and took a 1-0 lead.
Tip Tip Tip-A-Roo
With Steinbach searching for consistent offensive zone time, it was hard work along the boards by Brendan Westbrook that fought the puck free for defender Caydin Cleland who wristed a shot towards the net. Brendan Martin planted himself in front of the crease and was able to get a stick on the Cleland shot to direct home his 24th goal of the year, knotting the game up at 1-1.
Steinbach really began to find their legs and pushed the pace through the remainder of the period but the game headed into the third period all tied up.
Mountain Of A Mole Goal
With momentum in their corner, Steinbach looked to jump out in front early in the third and thanks to Tanner Mole, they did just that.
Mole took a pass from Tyson McConnell and let a hard wrist shot go that fooled the Dauphin goalie for the 19-year-olds 16th goal of the year, pushing his team out in front 2-1. Westbrook collected his second assist of the night on the go-ahead goal.
Power Play Put Away
The Pistons had a couple of chances with the man advantage to extend their lead but a strong Dauphin PK continued to foil the attacks of Steinbach.
Eventually, they were able to break the Kings and get the 3-1 thanks to Easton Bennett.
After Declan Graham kept the puck in, driving down the boards, he kicked it behind the net to Kyle Bettens. Bettens waited and drew both Kings defenders towards him before sliding the puck out to Bennett who hammered home his 8th of the year.
Dauphin never really got another chance as Radomsky and the defence locked down a 3-1 Steinbach win.
The power play finished 1-5 while the penalty kill was 3-3.
Radomsky was as he usually is, rock solid in goal finishing the night with 22 saves en route to being the games 3rd star.
Paul Dyck spoke about his team's win after the game. "It looked like we were a little rusty early like it was the first game outa the Christmas break. Much different than our first game and I'm not sure our boys were ready for that kind of game. There was very little ice to operate within the first, under pressure much more than we were the other night and our puck management wasn't very good. The first period we'd like to forget. We got marginally better in the second and in the third period, we made further strides. I think we gutted it out, the guys know we weren't as sharp as we needed to be but we'll take the two points."
Perhaps in years past, teams would play physical against the Pistons thinking it would throw them off their game. Dyck says he doesn't mind playing those types of games. "Our guys embrace it. They enjoy those games. Come playoff time and as we come to the end of the year, we'll see more of games like that. (Winning and battling tonight) was a good sign.
Declan Graham played in his 150th MJHL game. Graham came to Steinbach as a 17-year-old and has continued to grow both on and off the ice, according to head coach Paul Dyck.
The MJHL Trade Deadline is set for January 10th and Dyck is hoping to add. "It's not like walking into a grocery store and picking what you want, you need a trade partner. We will look to add if it helps our team get better."
A return to Neepawa on Friday night. The game will be on MIX 96 and SteinbachOnline.com