By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent
While he’s not a household name in the world of hockey ─ at least not yet ─ Steinbach Pistons’ Roman Bengert has rubbed shoulders with hockey royalty: Sidney Crosby.
Bengert hails from the Cole Harbour, N.S., which is the same hometown as the famous Crosby and another notable NHL star, Nathan McKinnon (Colorado).
“I’ve met Nanthan MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby a couple of times, and been able to be on the ice with them,” said Bengert. “They’re high-profile athletes and the one thing I can take away from them is their work ethic and focus. They’re tremendous in that area, both on and off the ice.”
Over the last several years, Bengert’s Steinbach Pistons have been one of the strongest teams in the MJHL. This season the Pistons are focused on claiming another MJHL championship, backed by the strong play of netminder Bengert.
Bengert, 20, has picked right up from where he left off last year, starting the season a perfect 8-0 with one shutout. Combined with his regular season record from last year of 25-8, Bengert has cemented his elite-netminder status in the MJHL.
“I think he’s carried over from his play from last year,” said Pistons’ GM/Head Coach Paul Dyck. “He’s been everything we could have hope for so far. We saw him develop last year, and we think he’s taken his game to a new level.”
The Pistons bench boss also has high praise for his No. 1 goalie and how he handles himself off the ice.
“He is very focused, as you would expect from any of the elite players in this league,” he said. “He’s a great teammate, he wants to win, and is just an extremely pleasant guy.”
Bengert agrees it’s been a solid start for him, though he’s quick to praise those around him for his own personal success.
“It’s been a great start, and it all goes back to the play of my teammates for sure,” he said.
Bengert has really enjoyed himself since joining the Pistons. He said he had bounced around a couple of other junior leagues before he found his home in Steinbach. He said it’s been the perfect fit both on and off the ice.
“I came in to training camp last year and earned a spot on the team,” he noted. “And the community has been very supportive – the team, the community, the billets, everything.”
The Pistons are excited about their potential this year after falling just short of the league title. And their early play is a true indication of that.
“I think we look pretty good. We have a lot of veterans, and we’re hungry to beat teams like Portage and Winkler this season,” said Bengert.
Likewise, Bengert’s focus is strictly on this season. He said he has no specific goals for after this season, but is keeping his options open while concentrating on his play with the Pistons. If he keeps up his current play, those post-junior opportunities will be seeking him out in no time.