The Aberdeen Wings faced their first shootout of the 2022-23 season Saturday night inside the Odde Ice Center, but it was the North Iowa Bulls who pulled away victorious, taking a 4-3 win over the Wings.
Saturday’s game saw several key differences compared to Friday’s loss, but a few breakdowns still caused some trouble for Wings defensively, which led to opportunities the Bulls capitalized on.
It was Aberdeen who had the big start Saturday, taking 17 shots on goal in the first period while holding North Iowa to just seven. Nils Forselius broke open the scoring at the 15:12 mark when Aiden Moser took a backhanded shot from between the circles and Forselius was there to fire home the rebound. It was his second goal on the year, while Moser and Dylan Wegner each picked up their third assists. After a highlight-worthy save from Wings goaltender Cole Moore with just two seconds on the clock, Aberdeen took the one-goal lead heading into the first break.
North Iowa got the equalizer they were looking for when Simone Dadie scored at the 3:17 mark, and got the go-ahead at the 11:06 mark when Justin Mexico capitalized on some miscommunication behind the net. But shortly after the goal, Aberdeen went on the power play for the first time in the game — and just 23 seconds into the man-advantage, Alexander Gullichsen picked up the rebound and fired from the side of the net to tie the game at two apiece. Gullichsen grabbed his fourth goal on the year, while Landon Parker notched his fourth assist and Jackson Anderson got his third.
But the Bulls got one more in the middle period when Byron Hartley scored his fourth goal on the weekend at the 19:03 mark, and the Wings faced the final period down by one.
With the game’s final minutes approaching and Aberdeen undoubtedly eyeing when to pull Moore for the extra attacker, the Wings went on the penalty kill for the first time in the game. With less than 30 seconds to kill, Nikolai Tishkevich got the puck deep in the Aberdeen zone and skated up ice, firing home a wobbling shot for the Wings’ second shorthanded goal of the weekend at the 17:58 mark. Tishkevich racked up his sixth goal on the year, while Parker got his second assist of the game, fifth overall, and Landry Schmuck notched his third.
After neither team scored in the final two minutes of regulation hockey — and no goals in overtime play after firing two shots apiece — the game’s fate went to a shootout. Hartley scored first for North Iowa while Patrick O’Connell was denied; Max Scott also scored for the Bulls, as did Schmuck. After Moore denied third shooter Mexico, North Iowa netminder Erik Chaffe also denied Parker to secure the win for the visitors.
“I thought we were good in the first and through the second period until the media timeout; we weren’t great after that. Another nice third,” Wings head coach Steve Jennings said. “It’s frustrating when it happens; you play a game where you’re 80 percent great, and it’s the 20 percent that hurts you.”
Overall, the Wings outshot the Bulls 39-33 while going 1-2 on the power play and holding the Bulls to 0-1, plus the shorthanded equalizer to send the game to overtime.
“We played more to what we talked about in the pre-scout and executed it better. Our forecheck was better, we possessed pucks better. Overall, our engagement was higher, mentally,” Jennings said. “Our issues Friday weren’t physical; it was us getting away from what we talked about, and I thought we were sharper with that tonight. Tonight we stayed out of the box, and we were into the third period before we had our first kill, and we managed to get a shorthanded goal off that. That was good.”
And despite dropping two games at home, Coach Jennings gave credence to the efforts on the ice and was positive about the direction the team is going.
“We have points in three of our last four games, so we need to recognize when we’re making progress,” he said. “It’s easy to say that we got swept at home — and we did, we lost both games. But the reality is we found a way to get a point tonight, plus the sweep last weekend. In the early part of the season, when you’re trying to assess, ‘are you making progress or not,’ it’s hard to say that in the last four games we’re not making progress. We’re just not satisfied that we’re doing enough.”
Eleven players notched points for the Wings over the weekend — Parker led the team with three points off three assists, while Tishkevich had two goals and Anderson grabbed two assists.
Aberdeen will try to continue their road success with two consecutive weekends away from the Odde. Up first is a trip to Austin to take on the Bruins on Oct. 14-15, then a bus ride north to Minot to face the Minotauros on Oct. 21-22. Fans can watch the games using their HockeyTV login, or catch the action at Buffalo Wings & Rings, the official home for all Wings away games. The game’s audio can be heard via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock, or listen on The Rock app.
The Wings will return to the Odde to finish out October at home against the Bruins on Oct. 28-29.