The Aberdeen Wings got off to a hot start over the visiting Austin Bruins and never looked back, skating to a 6-1 victory at the Odde Ice Center.
Friday’s game marked the third time that the Wings, who improve to 30-1-0-1, have faced the Bruins, now 9-18-2-2, in back-to-back weekends. So far, the Wings have scooped up the points in all six matchups this season, with Saturday’s game being the final time the two teams meet in the regular season.
Liam Fraser got the scoring started for the Wings on the power play with his eleventh goal of the season at the 5:37 mark in the first period, aided by Trevor Russell, who picked up his 19th assist, and Payton Matsui. Matsui snagged a goal of his own, his 19th on the season, swiping the puck out of the air at the 9:10 mark, assisted by Thomas Manty and Natan Vertes.
At the 13:47 mark, it was Manty’s turn for a goal, scoring from the far hash marks off an assist from Jacob Stender and Cade Neilson, who snagged his 20th assist of the season. After the period’s third goal, Austin’s Hunter Hodges replaced Tyler Shea between the pipes, which slowed down the Wings scoring barrage, and the teams headed into the first intermission leading 3-0. Aberdeen outshot Austin 14-8.
The scoring picked back up in the second for the Wings when Manty once again found the back of the net, scoring at the 2:21 mark. Stender picked up his second assist on the night and fifth on the season, while Matsui also grabbed his second assist of the game and 23rd overall.
At the 7:07 mark in the second, Spencer Schneider scored his 13th of the season off a feed from Clayton Cosentino, who picked up his league-leading 32nd assist, and Cullen Ferguson, who notched his seventh.
The hats starting raining at the 18:40 mark in the second when Manty once again snuck one behind Hodges, racking up his third goal of the night and 18th on the season. Manty’s hat trick was assisted by Neilson, who notched his 21st assist, and Vertes, who snagged his 15th.
“Manty is a goal scorer, and when he’s playing his game, he gets a lot of chances,” Wings head coach and general manager Scott Langer said. “He was a big component to tonight’s win.”
With less than ten seconds left in the period, Austin’s Garrett Dahm snuck one past Wings goalie Jake Sibell to get the Bruins on the board, and the teams headed into the final break with Aberdeen leading 6-1. Aberdeen outshot Austin 11-10.
The Bruins headed into the final period with gusto, but the Wings defense prevailed and neither team managed to score. Austin took 15 shots compared to Aberdeen’s eight, but Sibell denied each one.
“Tonight, I thought we were ready to go as a team,” Langer said after the win. “We came out early and were very opportunistic offensively. We made a lot of plays against a well-structured team in Austin. All four of our lines created offense and defended well.”
Sibell made 32 of 33 saves in the win. Shea stopped 7 of 10, while Hedges turned away 20 of 23. Aberdeen went 1-3 on the power play while killing all three of Austin’s chances.
The Wings and the Bruins will face off again Saturday night in Aberdeen; doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the puck drops at 7:15 p.m. Fans can purchase tickets ahead of the game at tickets.AberdeenWings.com, or get $10 general admission tickets at any of the four C-Xpress locations in Aberdeen. Saturday is I Hate Winter night inside the Odde, plus fans can joins the post-game party at Buffalo Wings & Rings following the game.