The Aberdeen Wings hosted the Bismarck Bobcats Friday night, falling 3-2 at the Odde Ice Center.
It was just their fifth loss in 46 games.
The Wings got on the board first when Jordan Randall scored just 43 seconds into the game off a pass from Nico deVita, who picked up his 29th assist, and Payton Matsui, who nabbed his 30th.
However, the Bobcats responded less than four minutes later when George Grannis got one back for Bismarck. He scored again at the 7:48 mark, giving the Bobcats the 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission, even with Aberdeen outshooting Bismarck 12-5 in the opening period.
Bismarck added another in the second period off a goal from Patrick Johnson. The Wings fired shot after shot at Bobcat goalie Ian Shane, outshooting Bismarck 22-9, but found themselves facing a 3-1 deficit heading into the final break.
At the 5:05 mark in the third, Cade Neilson got the Wings back within one, scoring his 12th goal off an assist from Christian Abrams and Thomas Manty, who notched his 22nd apple of the season. But the Bobcats picked up their shots at Wings goalie Jake Sibell and held off the NAHL’s top team to take the victory.
Wings head coach Scott Langer said his team made a few errors that Bismarck was able to handle.
“They capitalized on our mistakes tonight,” he said. “The shifts after a goal are extremely important and they were able to find the back of the net.”
Overall, Aberdeen outshot Bismarck 43 to 29.
“I thought we played extremely hard, but ran into a hot goaltender,” Langer said.
The Wings went 0-3 on the power play while holding the Bobcats to 0-1. Shane stopped 41 of the 43 shots sent his way, while Sibell stopped 26 of 29. He remains the league’s top goalie, holding onto a 1.21 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.
The Wings will look to get their revenge Saturday night in Bismarck during the latter portion of a home-and-home weekend.
“We are going to forget tonight and go after the two points tomorrow,” Langer said. “No reason to dwell on a result we can’t fix.”
Wings fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV account or can watch the game live at Buffalo Wings and Rings in Aberdeen. As always, the game’s audio will be broadcast over Hub City Radio’s 94.1 the Rock. Puck drops at 7:15 p.m. at the VFW Sports Center.