Starting goaltender Roman Bengert was sensational again and forward Braden Purtill had 3 points, helping the Steinbach Pistons wrap up their toughest stretch of games with a win over the Winnipeg Blues, 6-1 on Saturday night, making it 6 straight wins for the first place team in the MJHL.
Despite it being game four in five nights, it was the Pistons that came out flying on home ice, getting the first goal of the game on the power play, off a pretty tip in from captain Jordan Bochinski. Bochinski, who has two goals in two games, deflected a point shot from Darby Gula for his 15th of the year, setting a new career high for the 20 year old forward. Purtill also added an assist on the goal, which was the only one of the period.
While the Pistons had a 1-0 lead heading into the second period, it was because of Bengert, who made 16 saves in the opening 20 minutes of play.
In the second period, the Blues came out slugging and had a couple of chances and momentum on their side. That was until Ryan Carlson scored to make it 2-0. Carlson has four goals in three games, which has pushed his season total to 8. Bochinski and Purtill were credited with the assists, giving both players two points on the night.
Later in the period, it was Will Koop finding a wide open Mack Graham in front as the Toronto native made no mistake finding the back of the net for the 28th time, pushing the Pistons lead to 3-0. Graham leads the team with 65 points on the season which is also second in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
With less then a minute left in the period, it was Koop that would get a goal off an unbelievable play from Bradley Schoonbaert. While on the power play, Declan Graham started the play by getting the puck into the Winnipeg zone. Schoonbaert collected the disc and made his way around the net, as the Blues forwards did their best to keep him to the outside. Schoonbaert skated all the way around and back up to the blue line, almost lost control of the puck but then regained it and kept on moving. As everyone in the building, including almost all the players on the ice, expected Schoonbaert to drop the pass to the point, Schoonbaert whipped it across to a wide open Koop who snapped it into the open net.
"It was probably the easiest goal I'll score all year." Koop said with a laugh after the game. For the rookie Koop, he has 16 goals and 40 points, leading the rookie scoring race.
The period came to an end with Steinbach in control, 4-0.
Any hopes of a Blues comeback were quickly extinguished in the first 21 seconds of the third period as Tyson McConnell snapped home his 12th of the season with Wyatt Hinson and Danny Pion picking up the assists.
The Bengert shutout bid was broken in the third as Winnipeg cut into the lead, making it 5-1 but with under a minute to go, Steinbach would strike again on the power play as a hard working shift from Vaughn Dupre kept the play alive in the Winnipeg zone. The rookie forward fought to get the puck and when he did, he put a pass through the crease that deflected off Purtill's skate and into the net. Purtill now has 10 goals on the season and is the 7th Piston to hit double digits in goals. Dupre and Gula were credited with the assists on the last goal of the game, making it 6-1 Steinbach.
Bengert was named the games first star, and one could argue he could have been 1st, 2nd and 3rd. He finished the night with 35 saves, the one fans will remember most came off a 2 on 1 for the Blues. As Winnipeg broke into the zone with good speed, the forward made the pass across to the open winger and it looked as if Bengert had no chance to get over and stop the one timer. That was until he reached out and made the kind of glove save that would have goalies from all ages standing and applauding. Fans in Steinbach rose to cheer the 20 year old from Nova Scotia who sat in the crease, double checked to make sure the puck was in his glove, which it was, and received taps on the pads from several team mates.
The power play was on fire, finishing 3-5 and again the penalty kill stood tall, going a strong 4-4 and holding up against some strong pressure from the Winnipeg Blues.
Steinbach has won 6 in a row and 15 of their past 16 games. With a record of 39-6-1, the Pistons have 79 points on the year and are 13 points clear of the second place Winkler Flyers and 14 points up on third place Selkirk.
The Pistons goal differential now stands at +112.
The Pistons will enjoy a couple of well deserved days off to rest their battered bodies, before getting back to work against the Swan Valley Stampeders on Wednesday night. That game will be on Mix 96 and SteinbachOnline.com with the pre-game show at 7:15 and puck drop at 7:30pm.
Tyler Anderson served game 2 of his 2 game suspension.
Braden Purtill has 21 points in 24 games this season.
Ryan Carlson has 6 points in his past 4 games.
Roman Bengert is now 28-4 with a GAA 2.02 and SV% .929