Turnovers plague Wings in Friday loss

If there ever was a case for “puck luck” just not being on your side, the Aberdeen Wings felt that way Friday night as they fell 6-1 inside the VFW Sports Center against the Bismarck Bobcats.

Bismarck got on the board first halfway through the first period when a puck bounced off the boards behind the Wings’ net and deflected off a Wings defenseman. But Aberdeen found the equalizer three minutes later when Jackson Anderson got the puck and fired from the point through traffic and into the back of the net. It was his second goal on the season, while Luke Backel picked up his fourth assist.

The Wings came out firing, taking six shots in the first six minutes while only allowing the Bobcats two, and overall outshot Bismarck 12-10 in the opening period. The Wings also killed off a penalty and the two teams skated into the first break tied at one apiece.

The Bobcats’ second goal came just over five minutes into the second period when the puck hit off the back boards behind the Wings’ net and again bounced its way past the goal line. After the Wings nearly found the equalizer again, Bismarck got their third when Calvin Hanson scored at the 15:28 mark.

Bismarck outshot the Wings in the middle stanza 10-7 while each team killed off a penalty, and the Bobcats took the two-goal lead heading into the game’s final break.

It was Aberdeen that needed three goals to take back the lead, but it was the Bobcats who scored them — and quickly. The first came from Drew Holt following a turnover deep in the Wings’ zone at the 11:46 mark. Another turnover less than 30 seconds later led to the Bobcats’ fifth goal, this time from Brandon Reller. Bismarck kept the pressure on and forced a third turnover, which led to their third goal of the period when Vertti Jantunen scored at the 13:20 mark.

The Wings killed off a third penalty later in the period, denying six straight power play attacks from the Bobcats in their last two consecutive meetings. But the Bobcats held strong, outshooting the Wings 11-8 and taking the 6-1 win when the final horn sounded.

Overall, the Bobcats outshot Aberdeen 31-27. The Wings were perfect on the kill while going 0-1 with the man-advantage.

For Wings head coach Scott Langer, Friday’s loss boiled down to two things.

“Turnovers and lack of starting on time,” he said.

But they’ll look to salvage a split tomorrow night in another bout in Bismarck with a 7:15 p.m. scheduled puck drop. Fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV login or at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Aberdeen, the official home for all Wings away games. The game’s audio is broadcast via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock, or on The Rock app.

“We must start when the puck drops,” Langer said ahead of the rematch. “We’ve been through our miss-manage-the-puck stage. It surfaced tonight, and we lost.”