The Steinbach Pistons left early Friday morning and returned really early Monday morning with 6 more points to put in the bank after winning all three games they played over the weekend, helping vault them into second place in the MJHL.
Worth The Trip
The Pistons departed Steinbach at 7:00 am on Friday morning and ventured out to OCN where they defeated the Blizzard 4-2 to start their road trip.
The first period started off as the Pistons hoped it would as they came out and used their team speed to get a couple of chances early on.
Tanner Mole cashed in on a power play for his 17th of the year to give Steinbach a 1-0 lead. Mole deflected a point shot from Declan Graham and Tyson McConnell to boost the struggling road power play which was only at around 12% on the road.
The lead would grow in the first as Boedey Vaeth hammered a one-timer past the Blizzard netminder for his 15th of the year, giving Steinbach a 2-0 advantage. Nico Labossiere and Brendan Martin picked up the helpers on the goal.
In the second, the Pistons got away from what made them successful earlier and it cost them.
First, the Blizzard cut into the lead on a power play early in the second period then tied the game up late with an even-strength marker. The teams headed into the intermission deadlocked at 2-2.
Steinbach came out with a refuse to lose mindset and ground down the Blizzard, not allowing them much of anything throughout the third.
The game was broken open by Caleb Paisley, making his second Pistons debut and seeing his first game action since being picked up via trade at the deadline. Paisley parked himself in front and received a great pass from Tristan Culleton who came in from the point to pin down the Blizzard defenders before finding the 19-year-old forward in front for his 5th goal of the year and first as a member of that 2018-19 Pistons. Riley Vautour had the secondary assist on the goal that gave Steinbach a 3-2 lead.
Another power play gave Steinbach some added insurance when a Troy Williams point shot was either tipped in by Brendan Martin or went straight in (depends on which player you ask) but the credit, for now, goes to Williams who notched his 6th goal of the year from Vaeth and Martin to make it a 4-2 lead.
Things did get interesting down the stretch as with just over two minutes to go in the final period and Steinbach holding on to a two-goal lead, the Pistons were charged with a pair of minor penalties, going down 5 on 3.
OCN swarmed but key blocks by Tyson McConnell and Troy Williams paired with incredibly steady goaltending by Matt Radomsky held the Blizzard off and the horn would sound signalling a victory for the road Pistons.
Coming off his announcement that he has committed to Holy Cross for next year, Radomsky was exactly what Steinbach needed, a rock-steady presence in the blue paint making 27 saves on the night.
Special teams played a big role as the power play finished 2-4 while the penalty kill was 4-5.
Saturday Night Special
The Pistons continued their road trip with a visit to Waywayseecappo for back to back meetings on Saturday and Sunday. With a pair of goals from Nico Labossiere, big saves by Matt Lenz and some amazing blocked shots by Tyson McConnell, the Pistons won 4-1.
After a scoreless first period where both teams had some decent chances, the second finally saw the scoring when Labossiere cashed in on a power play for his second goal as a Piston. Good work down low by Brendan Martin and Troy Williams eventually got the puck in front and after winning a battle, Labossiere potted in the goal that made it 1-0 Steinbach.
Tanner Mole continued his hot play scoring his 18th of the year from Tyson McConnell to make it a 2-0 lead. Mole had goals in back to back games and for his second consecutive game, notched a power play marker.
Wayway did inch closer in the third as they found the back of the net on a 5 on 3 to cut the lead to 2-1.
Steinbach's two-goal lead would be restored when Troy Beauchemin outworked those around him to bury a loose puck in the Wolverines crease for his second of the year. Max Neil and Doug Johnson had the assists on the insurance marker.
With just over a minute left, Boedey Vaeth took a hit to make a play out to the neutral zone where Martin picked up the puck and selflessly set up Labossiere who scored into the open net for his second of the night and third of the year.
Lenz was called on to make 30 saves on the night as he continues to impress and improves his record to 10-3 this season.
Another two-goal night for the power play as it finished up 2-5 but the most impressive stat was the penalty kill as it was nothing short of spectacular going a very impressive 8-9.
Tyson McConnell had three huge, incredible blocks during the game. The next day, he was asked where the shots hit. "The first one hit the elbow, that kinda hurt," McConnell said with a little laugh. "The second one hit the inside of my foot and that really hurts today and I have no idea where the third one hit, I know it hit me somewhere."
Let's Do It Again!
A rematch on Sunday saw Steinbach get an early goal and hold on as Matt Radomsky secured his 5th shutout in a 2-0 Pistons win.
Brendan Martin continued to be white-hot as he scored midway through the opening period, cashing in on a loose puck in front for his 26th goal of the year and 5th point of the weekend to make it 1-0.
Martin has put up very impressive numbers over the last 7 games notching 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points in that span.
Both the Pistons and Wolverines had chances on the power play but the Pistons number 1 ranked short-handed unit didn't bend and neither did the Wolverines 5th ranked unit as it remained 1-0 headed into the third.
Steinbach clamped down and didnt allow much in the way of offence against but when shots did come, Radomsky was able to see them from a distance and coral any rebounds around.
In the final moments, Wayway pulled their goalie looking for the equalizer. The Wolverines dumped it in behind the Pistons net and out came Radomsky to play it.
The goalie had time and looked down the ice, seeing the wide-open net and decided... why not?
Radomsky handled the puck for a split second and then fired it toward the open cage. Off the stick, the shot looked like it had the line and power... it didn't have the height, however. The shot was knocked down by the Wolverines forward but his attempt to the net was blocked (Radomsky was back in time and would have made the save had it gone through).
After the game, Radomsky broke down the conversation he had with Troy Williams during that particular play.
"I heard Willy yell 'leave it, leave it' and I was like 'no, I'm going for it.' I heard him yell 'nooooo' but it was too late, I was going for it." Radomsky says with a big laugh. "I was a little scared after it was all done but I looked at the bench and saw Paul (Dyck) smiling so I knew I wasn't in too much trouble. Maybe wasn't the smartest thing to do in a 1-0 game, but hey, gotta try."
The puck did eventually find the empty net off the stick of Riley Vautour who scored his 10th of the year and first a Piston to secure a 2-0 win. A special moment for Vautour who scored against his former team with his parents and old billet parents in attendance.
Williams collected the lone assist in the goal capping off a strong weekend for the veteran.
The power play sputtered a bit finishing 0-5 while the penalty kill was perfect going 5-5.
Radomsky finished the night with 16 saves for his MJHL leading 5th goose egg.
Troy Williams hit the 250 games played at the Junior A level on Saturday night. All of his teammates made sure to take time to congratulate him as did the coaches. After the game, Williams was given the game puck to commemorate the honour.
With the three-game sweep up north, the Pistons have moved into 2nd place in the MJHL ahead of the Swan Valley Stampeders.
The Pistons are up by one point but the Stamps do have two games in hand.
Not a whole lot of rest for the weary as the Pistons are back in action on Wednesday as they host the Virden Oil Capitals. It's the first of four straight home games to close out January for Steinbach.