It had been a full season since the Austin Bruins beat the Aberdeen Wings. After sweeping the Bruins 8-0 in the 2020-21 hockey season, Friday night’s matchup inside the Odde Ice Center was the first time the two teams met in 2021-22.
But the veteran Bruins team was too much for the young Wings squad as they defeated Aberdeen 3-1, maintaining their status at the top of the NAHL’s Central Division.
Austin got on the board first when Michal Jasenec snuck one past Wings goaltender Greg Orosz. They stayed fairly even with shots on goal, with Austin taking 11 and Aberdeen taking 8, and the Bruins headed into the first intermission with the one-goal lead.
Patrick O’Connell tied the game at the 4:34 mark in the second period when he tipped in a centering pass from Kevin MacKay. It was his third goal on the season, while MacKay notched his third assist and Cade Neilson grabbed his eighth.
But Austin took the lead again at the 11:23 mark on a power play goal from John Larkin. After a physical second period, the Wings closed the gap with shots on goal, taking eleven while holding the Bruins to nine.
But Austin widened the shots on goal gap once again in the game’s final period, taking eleven and holding Aberdeen to just six. The Wings also found themselves in penalty trouble, giving the Bruins three chances with the extra attacker — and they found success on their third opportunity when Jens Richards scored at the 15:06, widening their lead to two. The Wings pulled Orosz in the game’s final minute, but Austin held onto the 3-1 lead when the final horn sounded.
Overall, Austin outshot Aberdeen 31-25 while also going 2-7 on the power play. Aberdeen also had seven chances with the extra man but couldn’t find the back of the net. Orosz stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced in the loss, while Austin’s Hudson Hodges stopped 24 of 25 en route to his seventh win in ten games played.
Wings head coach Steve Jennings knew Austin would bring a physical game to the Odde, but thought his team stepped up to the challenge.
“I thought we managed it,” he said. “We were physical, too. Guys like Will Diamond made their presence known.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s rematch, Jennings said the guys need to be better at sustaining momentum when its building.
“We let it go a bit and ended up chasing tonight,” he said. “Our special teams need to be better; we gave up two power play goals, something we haven’t done in a while. We need consistency from both power play units. One unit built momentum tonight and we didn’t sustain it through the change.”
Aberdeen (7-6-0-0) and Austin (9-3-1-1) will have their rematch Saturday night. Doors open for the Halloween game at 5:30 p.m. with the puck hitting the ice at 7:15 p.m. Candy bags are ready for the first 100 kids through the door, plus they’re invited to stick around after the game for a candy toss on the ice.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or ahead of the game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com. $10 general admission tickets can also be purchased at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.
We welcome the U14 and U16 South Dakota National hockey teams inside the AutoMaxx Party Deck Saturday night, with team introductions in the first period. For information and updates, keep an eye on AberdeenWings.com.