So what does a hockey team do at the trade deadline, when they are already the top team in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and are ranked as one of the top Junior ‘A’ teams in Canada?
Well, it’s quite simple, at least when it comes to the Steinbach Pistons, what you do is you go out and make a passel of trades that makes them even stronger and more formidable, as the team heads down the stretch in their quest for another MJHL title and one more run at a national crown.
Over the last month the Pistons have acquired four 20-year-old players, three of them added in the last week leading up to Monday’s trade deadline, moves that immediately make the Pistons a better team.
All this comes on the heels of the Pistons finally returning to action Sunday night in Steinbach with a 6-3 victory over the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. It was the first action for the Pistons since Dec. 18.
They were scheduled to play in Wayway on Friday, Jan. 7, but that game was postponed due to COVID-protocols.
The Pistons continue to lead the MJHL with a stellar 24-6-1-0 record, two points ahead of the Dauphin Kings and also with a game in hand on the Kings.
Wayway, a strong opponent, having one of their best seasons ever, fell to 20-9-2-0 with the loss to the Pistons.
Leading the charge for the Pistons in the win over the Wolverines was Steinbach-product Ty Paisley, who scored two goals for his hometown Pistons, his 10th and 11th of the season and also added an assist.
"I thought it was Ty’s best game of the season," said head coach Paul Dyck, "not just because of his two goals, but with his commitment level and how he was see able to see the ice in the game."
Neo Kiemeny also notched a pair of goals for the Piston, while Ethan Johnson and Cooper Rice added singles. Davis Fry and defencemen Langley Kruggel each had three assists for the Pistons.
Will Hambley made 30 saves in net for the Pistons, picking up his 14th win in 15 starts this season.
The first trade came in late November when the Pistons acquired defenceman Bryce Kilbourne from the Melville Millionaires in exchange for future considerations.
Then things heated up in January as forward Braden Birnie, the captain of the Weyburn Red Wings came to the Pistons on Jan. 2 in exchange for defenceman Blake Norris and forward Ethan Clements. Birnie was in the line-up for the Pistons on Sunday, picking up an assist in the game.
On Jan. 8, the Pistons landed veteran defenceman Jackson Betcher from the Swan Valley Stampeders and then finally forward Zach Power on Jan. 10 from the London Nationals. Both those acquisitions were in exchange for future considerations.
That brings to 25 the number of players on the Pistons roster, an expanded number allowed this year due to COVID. Dyck says with that expanded roster, they were able to keep all of their existing players after the moves.
It also brings to eight the number of 20-year-olds on the roster, the maximum allowed this year as the Pistons were playing with less than half that number in most games this season.
"Without question we are a better team today," said Dyck, "we have more depth overall, more depth in our scoring and more balance in our line-up."
All this new firepower will be on display this weekend in Steinbach as the Pistons host the Swan Valley Stampeders in a pair of games at the T.G. Smith Centre. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights.