An early first period goal kicked things off for the Aberdeen Wings — and a three-goal third period sealed the deal as they found their footing and skated to a 5-3 win Saturday night against the Bismarck Bobcats inside the VFW Sports Center.
That first goal came from Cade Neilson less than two minutes into the game when he picked off a pass and fired a slap shot past Bismarck goaltender Ben Behrens. The unassisted goal was his eighth on the year.
The Wings picked up three penalties in the opening period, but killed off all three extra-man chances. They outshot Bismarck 8-7 in the opening period, and that extra shot turned out to be an important one as they headed into the first intermission leading 1-0.
The Bobcats killed off a penalty of their own in the second period, but Ronan Walsh broke through the Bismarck net once again at the 10:29 mark, grabbing a pass from Neilson in the circle and firing it into the side of the net, giving his team the 2-0 lead. Walsh’s goal streak continued to grow, nabbing his eighth goal in the last six consecutive games — Neilson grabbed his 20th assist on the play, while Jacob Bosse claimed his tenth.
At the 16:36 mark in the second, Quinn Rudrud got Bismarck on the board, scoring his third goal of the weekend to bring his team back within one.
Heading into the third period with the 2-1 lead, Aberdeen quickly added to that total, starting early with a goal from Bosse just 58 seconds into the period, who skated down the middle of the ice to tap in a pass from Neilson. It was Bosse’s fourth goal on the year, while Neilson racked up his 21st apple and Hugo Allais notched his sixth.
Neilson and his line weren’t done yet — shortly after a huge save by Dominik Wasik and battling off a couple good Bismarck chances, Neilson skated down the ice and completed a perfect tic-tac-toe play at the 8:44 mark to put the Wings up 4-1. Neilson’s second goal of the game was his ninth overall, while Bosse added his eleventh assist and Kevin MacKay notched his fifth.
Just under five minutes later, at the 13:36 mark, Chase Davis picked up the puck and fired from the below the circle to take a four-point lead. Davis got his third goal of the season, with Nate Mann picking up his seventh assist and Parks Wallace claiming his third.
Bismarck was very quick to answer when Adam Pietila scored just 22 seconds later to put his team back within three. And at the 16:30 mark, Jake Mclean grabbed a shorthanded goal to put the score at 5-3. But the Wings packed in the defense, even staving off a six-on-four attack after a bench penalty and the Bobcats pulled Behrens from between the pipes.
Overall, the Wings outshot the Bobcats 27-24, going 0-3 on the power play but also killing off all four penalties and keeping their status as the league’s top penalty killing unit. Wasik denied 21 of 24 shots to claim his sixth win of the year.
After falling in a close match Friday, Wings head coach Steve Jennings was happy to see his team rebound and find a win on the road, stating that what they did Saturday night was what they needed to bounce back.
“Starting on time, getting to the net and scoring first,” he said after the game. “Sticking with the game plan and not letting them take control.”
Several Wings players had a successful weekend: Bosse added two goals and two assists, Walsh added two goals and an assist, and Allais and MacKay contributed two assists of their own. But perhaps the star of the weekend was Neilson, who racked up two goals and four assists on the weekend and finishing with a +4. Saturday’s game marked his 14th assist in the last eight games.
And Jennings is proud of what he brings to this year’s squad.
“Simply put: leadership,” he said of his assistant captain. “He competes and plays with heart all the time. He’s a performance leader and a difference maker.”
Jennings was also quick to credit Neilson’s line with contributing to the game’s success.
“His line tonight was outstanding,” he said. “They’re definitely building great chemistry.”
The Wings will finish out November at home inside the Odde Ice Center on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26 and 27 when they host the Minot Minotauros. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the puck drops at 7:15 p.m. both nights. Fans can purchase tickets ahead of the game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com or at the door. $10 general admission tickets can also be purchased at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase. Stay tuned to AberdeenWings.com and our social media pages for information on upcoming games.