The Aberdeen Wings got off to a hot start Friday and never looked back, skating to a 6-1 victory over the Minot Minotauros inside Maysa Arena.
On the hunt to recover from Minot’s midweek victory, Aberdeen rebounded from the loss, just their third on the season, to take the two coveted points from the Minotauros.
The Wings got on the board fast when defenseman Nico deVita fired the team’s first shot on goal from the perimeter to catch Minotauros goalie Keenan Rancier off guard just a minute-and-a-half into the game. He was assisted by Payton Matsui and Thomas Manty. Minot outshot the Wings 13 to eight, but the Wings skated into the first break leading 1-0.
Aberdeen pumped up the energy and pressure in the second period to bury Minot behind a scoring barrage. Their first goal came at the 6:34 mark in the second when Spencer Schneider got his 17th on the season — and eventual game-winner — off a quick pass from captain Clayton Cosentino at the face-off in the Minotauros’ zone. Four minutes later, Manty gave the Wings the 3-0 cushion with his 21st goal of the season, finding the back of the net off a quick pass from Cade Neilson and deVita, who notched his 23rd assist of the season.
Minot got one back at the 13:15 mark in the second when Jack Westlund snuck one past Wings keeper Jake Sibell. However, Aberdeen responded just over three minutes later when Neilson got a goal of his own on the power play, assisted by Manty and Jake Goldowski. With less than a minute in the period and on the power play once again, it was Goldowski’s turn for a goal of his own, assisted by Trevor Russell and Neilson, who each racked up their 24th assists on the season.
Aberdeen outshot Minot 18 to eight in the middle period, which led to the 5-1 cushion heading into the final intermission.
“We really wanted to get a good first step on them tonight, get quick pressure on them right away,” Wings assistant coach Michael Hill said.
Aberdeen played solid defense in the third period, killing a penalty and outshooting Minot 14 to seven. One of those shots from Liam Fraser with just over two minutes left in the game gave the Wings the 6-1 victory. He was assisted by Matsui, who picked up his 26th apple on the season, and Cosentino, who nabbed his league-leading 36th.
Aberdeen went 50 percent on the power play, going three of six while holding Minot to zero of two. Coach Hill was happy with the confidence his team displayed and success they found.
“That was a big one for us,” he said. “Our power play really stepped up tonight. Three power play goals was a huge energizer for us.”
Minot’s Rancier stopped 34 of 40 shots sent his way, while Sibell denied 27 of 28. He maintains his position at the top of the NAHL’s top goalie list, holding a 1.07 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage.
“Sibell takes control,” Hill said of the goalie. “He competed in the net very well. I’m very proud of his play tonight.”
Aberdeen and Minot will face off for the third and final time this week tomorrow night in Minot; puck drops at 7:35 p.m. Wings fans can watch the game via their HockeyTV login or live at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Aberdeen. The game’s audio is broadcast over Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.