Wings earn weekend split in Bismarck

It was a back-and-forth matchup Saturday night inside the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck, but the Bobcats found one extra opportunity to take the 3-2 win over the Aberdeen Wings, splitting the weekend games.

Aberdeen wanted to get off on another quick start, but after four missed opportunities, the Bobcats’ offensive game picked up, racking up eleven shots before the Wings had another chance. Aberdeen fought back and increased the pressure, but Bismarck took a good look on a 3-on-1 attack and snuck one past Wings goaltender Greg Orosz to get the 1-0 lead at the 15:28 mark in the first. Aberdeen killed off a penalty in the opening stanza, but the Bobcats outshot them 14-10 and headed into the first break with the one-goal lead.

Orosz stood tall in net for Aberdeen, denying a couple nice looks from the Bobcats, and the Wings were able to take advantage of the extra attacker at the 11:13 mark in the second. That’s when Devon Carlstrom grabbed the rebound from a blocked shot and put it in the back of the net for a power play goal — it was his second goal of the season, while Kyle Gaffney got his fifth assist and Cade Neilson notched his sixth.

The Bobcats went on the attack shortly after the goal, but the Wings killed the penalty once again. Orosz kept several nice opportunities out of his net to keep the score tied at one apiece, and the teams headed into the final break with a 1-1 score.

Orosz made another big save just 30 seconds into the third, showing his presence in his debut for the Wings. The Bobcats thought they gained the lead again at the 15:09 mark but the goal was waived off and the teams continued to battle in the game’s final period.

Aberdeen got the lead they were looking for one minute later when Landry Schmuck was at the receiving end of an odd-man rush, crashing into the Bobcat’s zone and sneaking it past netminder Erik Forss at the 6:10 mark. It was his second goal on the year, while Chase Davis grabbed his fourth apple and Jacob Bosse got his fifth.

Bismarck was quick to respond, though, scoring off a rebound at the 8:39 mark in the third, and the teams found themselves in another tie game. The Wings killed off two more penalties in the game’s final minutes, but the Bobcats were in the right place at the right time when Isaac Novak put in another rebound with just 44 seconds remaining in regulation. Orosz left the game, giving his squad the six-man attack to try to get another goal, but it was too little, too late, and the Bobcats snagged their second win of the season.

“Our start wasn’t what it was last night. They pushed from the start,” head coach Steve Jennings said after the game. “We pushed hard in the second and I thought we turned the momentum around. The third was back and forth and, unfortunately, we left ourselves in a position where a tough bounce cost us the game.”

Overall, Bismarck took 35 shots at Orosz, who denied 32, while the Wings fired 31 shots at Forss, who denied 29. Aberdeen went 1-2 on the power play and killed off all four penalties, something Jennings was happy to see.

“They were solid and helped us develop and maintain momentum,” he said. “We need them to perform and I was happy to see what they did.”

The Wings will enjoy a weekend off before finishing out October at home inside the Odde Ice Center. First, they’ll host the North Iowa Bulls on Oct. 22-23 during the Sanford Children’s Miracle Network weekend. Fans will notice the Wings in specialty jerseys Friday and Saturday night, designed by a patient, and will have the chance to take one home during the specialty jersey auction, which will take place following Saturday’s matchup.

They’ll wrap up the month hosting the Austin Bruins on Oct. 29-30. Friday’s game will feature the annual Rooster Rush game, with those in attendance getting the chance to take home some Rooster Rush swag.

“Honestly, I’m excited for it,” Jennings said of finishing the month inside the Odde. “We’ve been on the road a fair bit through the start of the season and preseason. It will be good to have a home stand and play in our arena. It’s such a challenging place for visiting teams thanks to our fans and the atmosphere.”

Fans can purchase tickets ahead of the game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com. $10 general admission tickets are also available at all C-Express locations in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.