In the first of two consecutive home-and-home weekends against the Bismarck Bobcats, the Aberdeen Wings split the weekend but still snagged three of four league points up for grabs.
That came after a tough battle Saturday night inside the Odde Ice Center, where the Wings fell 3-2 in a shootout.
After a scoreless first period, Bismarck got on the board first at the 3:24 mark in the second period after a power play goal from Jon Ziskie. But after a Bobcat penalty, the Wings needed just 50 seconds on their own power play before Ronan Walsh took a pass from Kyle Gaffney to tie the game at one apiece. It was Walsh’s sixth goal on the season, his third on the weekend, while Gaffney notched his tenth assist on the year.
Bismarck added another goal to take the lead again at the 11:45 mark in the third with a goal from Quinn Rudrud. Down by one with less than a minute on the game clock, the Wings pulled goalie Dominik Wasik from between the pipes to take the six-man advantage — and it paid off. The Wings applied heavy pressure and took multiple shots on goal, and Will Gilson was able to find the back of the net with just 20 seconds remaining. It was his second goal of the weekend and second overall on the year, while Gaffney added another assist to his name and Cade Neilson grabbed his 16th overall.
The teams moved to overtime play, but neither team managed to score after five minutes of three-on-three hockey, so the game’s fate moved to a shootout. The first two Bismarck shooters — Owen Michaels and Ziskie — each scored on Wasik, while the first two Wings shooters — Walsh and Landry Schmuck — were denied, and Bismarck took the win and two points, while the Wings snagged one.
The extra point moved the Wings into third place overall in the Central Division standings.
“It’s an important step for us,” Wings head coach Steve Jennings said after the game. “The younger players are starting to take steps. Finding a way to get these points was important.”
Overall, the Wings outshot Bismarck 37-21 — Wasik denied 19 of those shots. Bobcats netminder Aksel Reid turned away 36 of 37. The Wings went 1-6 on the power play, while Bismarck went 1-4.
The two teams will face each other again in another home-and-home weekend, with the Bobcats traveling to the Odde on Friday, Nov. 19 before traveling back to the VFW Sports Center for a Saturday matchup. 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 ahead of the game at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.
Wings fans can watch Saturday’s matchup using their HockeyTV login, or at Buffalo Wings & Rings, the official home for Wings away games. The game’s audio is broadcast over Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.
As for Jennings, he’s ready for a week of hard practice ahead of facing the same opponent back-to-back weekends.
“Honestly, it will be similar to last week,” he said, referring to the week of practice ahead. “We grew last week and need to take more steps this week.”