Black Bears deliver Wings’ first loss

The Aberdeen Wings and the Maryland Black Bears faced off Friday afternoon in game three of the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN — and while the game was a close one for the majority, Maryland had a strong third period to deliver the Wings their first loss of the 2022-23 season.

After a scoreless first, Ronan Walsh opened up the scoring at the 6:33 mark when he tipped in a shot fired by Luke Lindsay. Walsh grabbed his second goal on the season, while Owen DuBois and Lindsay each picked up their second assists.

However, the Black Bears responded with four unanswered goals of their own.

Hunter Ramos tied the game later in the period to send the teams into the final intermission tied at one apiece. In the third, Gabriel Westling gave his team the go-ahead on the power play at the 8:54 mark, and Riley Ruh found himself alone in front of Wings goaltender Geno Pichora for the two-goal cushion at the 18:37 mark. The Wings tried to generate some offense with the extra attacker, but Maryland sealed the Wings’ fate when Sean Kilcullen found the empty net at the 19:10 mark.

“We chased the game in the first period,” Wings head coach Steve Jennings said. “Penalties put us behind. Our second period was better but we couldn’t build off that and add more.”

Both teams found themselves in penalty trouble in the game — Aberdeen even had to kill off a 5-on-3 attack near the end of the first period. When the dust settled, Aberdeen went 0-5 on the power play while killing of five of six chances the Black Bears saw. Pichora made several key saves throughout the game and eventually stopped 31 of the 34 shots he faced.

Aberdeen wraps up their time at the Showcase Saturday afternoon when they take on the Amarillo Wranglers at 2:30 p.m. Fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV login, or catch the action at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Aberdeen, the official home for all Wings away games. Fans can also listen to the audio broadcast via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.

“We want to gain some energy back and play a more complete game,” Jennings said of the upcoming game. “We need to generate more at five-on-five than we did today. We want to come home with three wins.”

The Wings will kick off the season at home on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24 when they host the Bismarck Bobcats inside the Odde Ice Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the puck hits the ice at 7:15. Tickets are available now online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com or at the door on game nights.