After being swept by the Aberdeen Wings last weekend at the Odde Ice Center, the Austin Bruins took advantage of their home-ice Friday night in Austin, taking a 5-3 win over the Wings.
It was an evenly-contested match until the third period, when three quick Bruins goals spelled disaster for Aberdeen. But the Wings didn’t go away, getting one goal back before the final horn sounded.
The Wings got the first shot on goal in the game’s opening seconds, followed by several more quality chances. But the first goal went to Austin while on the power play — Wings goaltender Geno Pichora made a big save but slid too far to the side, allowing Walter Zacher an open net for the 1-0 lead at the 9:06 mark.
But the Wings responded three minutes later when Nils Forselius got the puck at the center line and used his speed to skate in on a breakaway, going five-hole on Bruins netminder Trent Wiemken to tie the game at one apiece at the 12:10 mark. Forselius grabbed his seventh goal on the season, while Ronan Walsh picked up his seventh assist.
Less than two minutes later, the Wings got the lead when Owen DuBois skated the puck around a Bruins defender and into Austin’s zone before feeding to Logan Gravink, who fired from between the circles at the 13:55 mark. Gravink got his second goal of the season, while DuBois racked up his tenth assist.
The two teams were even in shots on goal in the first, each taking 12, but Aberdeen had the one-goal lead heading into the game’s first intermission.
Pichora came up big to start the middle stanza and the Wings even got a good shorthanded opportunity, but the Bruins got their second power play goal of the game at the 4:30 mark — once again, Pichora made a diving save and Sam Christiano got the rebound into an open net to tie the game at two apiece. Austin had plenty of pressure in the middle stanza and killed off two Wings penalties, and the teams headed into the final break all tied up.
But the Bruins got three goals in just over three minutes to start the third. The first came at the 1:31 mark after Pichora got tripped up by a teammate and Isaak Brassard took advantage of another open net. They scored again at the 2:44 mark when Ocean Wallace got past Pichora, and Austin Salani made it a three-goal lead at the 3:07 mark.
The intensity picked up in the third and the Wings had a ray of light following coincidental penalties as the game’s final minutes approached. After two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey, the Wings went on the power play and capitalized with just over two minutes left on the clock. That’s when Jackson Anderson took a one-timer from the point and Walsh was in the crease to put the rebound home at the 17:43 mark. Walsh grabbed his sixth goal on the year, second point of the game, while Anderson got his third assist on the season and Parker notched his 12th.
The Wings remained on the power play following the goal, and the Bruins took another penalty in the game’s final minute, which led to a brief 6-on-3 attack after Pichora took to the bench. But Austin held strong defensively and the extra attacker wasn’t enough for Aberdeen, who faced the 5-3 loss when the final horn sounded.
The two teams were dead-even on shots on goal, each taking 26 overall. But despite the early push and the late effort, the three-minute period at the start of the third sunk the Wings.
“Not a good road effort,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said. “We can’t be on the bottom end of a physical game. They were more physical and won more battles. We have no choice but to respond tomorrow.”
The rematch comes Saturday night inside Riverside Arena with another 7:05 p.m. puck scheduled. Fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV account, or at Buffalo Wings & Rings, the official home for all Wings away games. The game’s audio can be heard via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock, or on The Rock app.
If the second-place Wings (14-9-1-2) hope to stay on track to catch the first-place Bruins (18-4-2-3), they’ll need to find a way to earn the weekend split — and for Langer, the recipe is a simple one.
“We go back to simple Wings hockey,” he said. “Sixty minutes of hard-to-play-against.”