The Steinbach Pistons are excited to announce that Goaltender Roman Bengert has committed to Lake Superior State University Lakers of the NCAA Division 1.
The news has brought excitement and relief for the Pistons 20 year-old starting net-minder who will now be continuing his hockey career at the highest collegiate level in the United States.
“It definitely is exciting, but I also feel a sense of relief,” said Bengert, who grew up in Kyoto, Japan, moving to Canada when he was eight years-old. “I’m glad to be able to just focus on the Pistons and what we do with this special season.”
Bengert is helping backstop the Pistons to potentially their best season yet. Steinbach caught everyone’s attention when they kicked off the year with a 13-0-0 record, capturing the top spot in the CJHL’s top twenty rankings in the first four weeks of the season and have stayed in the top 10 since.
The success Bengert is seeing today hasn’t come easy. The goaltender’s persistence early in his junior career helped him stay the course despite not being in the most ideal situation.
He started his hockey playing days in his hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. He soon realized that if he wanted to achieve his goal of a NCAA Division 1 scholarship he was going to have to consider moving west.
“Part of the reason I didn’t stick around on the east coast was that it was mainly just about hockey,” he said. “In the MJHL, specifically the Pistons, it was about more.”
Bengert bounced between three teams in his first year of junior hockey. The adventure started with one game in the CCHL with the Smiths Falls Bears, 15 games with the Point Mallard Ducks of the North American 3 Hockey League and then back home to play 9 games with the Cole Harbour Colts of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League.
That is a total of 6,149 kilometres of travel just between those communities. And the travel didn’t stop there, this time he decided to kick off his 19 year-old season by making the 3,475 kilometre trip from Cole Harbour out to Steinbach, Manitoba after receiving advice from his goaltender coach Steve Briere.
“I had been speaking with Briere in the spring/summer of 2015 about our goaltending needs, and he said he had a goalie in mind and felt he just needed an opportunity,” said Pistons Head Coach and General Manager Paul Dyck. “After speaking with Roman several times that summer, we decided to bring him in and it was a very good decision.”
Bengert made the team and would eventually play himself into the starting position as the Pistons made a deep playoff run. The positive for Bengert was that he didn’t get moved, he had the luxury of playing on the same team for an entire year and better yet, he was guaranteed the starting job the following season.
He embraced the new role of the starting goaltender and attracted immediate attention posting a 2.02 GAA, .929 SV%, 28-4-0 record and 5 shutouts so far this season. There were multiple people watching and asking about Bengert, but it was Lake Superior State University that snatched him up first.
“Lake Superior has a strong past as well as a young team that has potential to be successful in the near future,” he said about the Lakers, who were NCAA Tournament Champions in 1988, 1992 and 1994. “I also feel that I have an opportunity to earn a meaningful role on the team in my collegiate career.”
And Bengert was quick to recognize that he wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for the Steinbach Pistons.
“Steinbach is home to one of the classiest Junior ‘A’ organizations in the country and offers extensive support to those wanting to reach the next level,” he added. “I simply cannot express how thankful I am for the Pistons and the entire Steinbach community.”
The Steinbach Pistons are very proud of Roman’s recent accomplishments. “We are extremely excited about the opportunity that lies ahead for Roman,” said Dyck. “He has put together a strong body of work over the past two season and is very deserving of this commitment.