Wings’ comeback push falls short Saturday

The Aberdeen Wings found themselves in the middle of a roller coaster game Saturday night inside the Odde Ice Center, but ultimately fell short to the Bismarck Bobcats 6-4.

And, like in Friday’s loss, penalties were the crux of the issues the Wings faced.

The Bobcats got on the board first at the 3:59 mark on a power play goal from Evan Hunter. Hunter scored again at the 12:23 mark to give his squad the two-goal cushion.

But Aberdeen responded in a big way. It started when coincidental penalties at the 14:55 mark led the teams to four-on-four hockey. After good pressure in the Bismarck zone, Alexander Gullichsen picked up a turnover in front of the Aberdeen net and skated nearly the length of the ice before feeding a perfect pass over to Landon Parker, who took a quick shot for his first goal as a Wing at the 16:15 mark.

Then, just 15 seconds later, Kyle Contessa skated the puck into the Bismarck zone and Nikolai Tishkevich was there to pick it up, skating in and firing from the between the circles to grab the equalizer at the 16:30 mark. Tishkevich picked up his third goal on the season, while Contessa got his first assist wearing the Wings sweater, and Aiden Moser got his second.

Bismarck outshot Aberdeen 12-11 in the opening period despite having two power play opportunities, and the teams heading into the first break tied at two apiece.

“We pushed through some adversity; we gave up that goal on the power play early and then gave up a second goal, and then pushed back and evened things out,” Wings head coach Steve Jennings said. “We started to build some momentum off of it. It was really important to get that push.”

The Wings got on the board again quickly in the middle period on their first power play opportunity of the game. Nils Forselius grabbed the puck behind the Bobcat net and skated around to the high slot before feeding to Luke Lindsay, who fired from the point to give the Wings the lead at the 2:41 mark. It was Lindsay’s second goal of the year, while Forselius notched his first assist and Contessa got his second of the game.

Less than three minutes later, Tishkevich skated the puck deep into the Bismarck zone and fired a backdoor pass to an awaiting Jacob Vockler, who fired the puck home for the two-goal lead at the 5:24 mark. It was Vockler’s first goal as a Wing, while Tishkevich and Contessa each picked up their third assists.

But the momentum was short lived as the Bobcats went on to grab four unanswered goals of their own.

They answered back while once again on the power play, when Michael Neumeier scored at the 7:41 mark. Neumeier tied it up again at the 14:33 mark, and the teams headed into the final break tied at four apiece. The Wings fired off twenty shots in the middle period while the Bobcats had twelve.

Julian Beaumont gave Bismarck the lead again at the 4:48 mark in the third, and Hunter grabbed his third of the game at the 18:45 mark to put the nail the coffin for Aberdeen. The Wings pulled goaltender Cole Moore from between the pipes with less than a minute to play, but the extra attacker wasn’t enough when the final horn sounded.

“We talked about it going into the third period: it’s a 20-minute hockey game at that point,” Jennings said after the game. “I think we have a team that will be the team — when we get forced into these 20-minute games, when it’s tied going into the third — that wins those games down the stretch.”

The Bobcats outshot the Wings 15-8 in the third, with each team firing off 39 shots total. Aberdeen went 1-for-2 on the power play while Bismarck went 2-for-8.

After more penalty trouble and, thus, not being able to generate the offensive presence they’d like, Jennings said the focus needs to be directed inward as this team progresses through the start of the season.

“Just try to keep the guys focused on what we’re after, trying to make sure that we’re staying on the goal, which is trying to get the win,” he said. “We build momentum when we can, and it’s tough when there’s no flow to the game because there are influences that are taking the focus of the game in a different direction.”

The Wings (2-4-0-0), who started the season with two wins, have now taken four losses as they look ahead to a weekend on the road at St. Cloud. Fans can watch the games using their HockeyTV login, or catch the action at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Aberdeen, the official home for all Wings away games. The audio is broadcasted via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.

For Jennings and his staff, another week on the ice to build cohesion with new faces in the locker room is what he’s looking forward to.

“We took some steps here tonight and we need to find a way to build some consistency,” he said. “For us, it’s always good to get on the road early in the season because it builds camaraderie with the guys. I think that will be important. We need to take some of the distractions out of the picture and just focus on us.”