After being named the NAHL’s Regular Season Champions last week, the Aberdeen Wings continued their dominance on the ice, skating to a 4-1 win over the the St. Cloud Norsemen inside the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria, MN.
As the end of the regular season nears, the Wings, who improve to 46-4-0-1 on the season, took two critical points from the Norsemen, who are in a three-way fight for a playoff spot. After Friday’s games, St. Cloud is tied with the Austin Bruins and are just one point behind the Minnesota Wilderness.
Aberdeen found themselves in a bit of penalty trouble in the first period, but they outshot the Norsemen 13-5 and killed off two penalties. With just over a minute to play in the first, Kyle Gaffney slapped at a loose puck in front of the St. Cloud net to put the Wings on the board. Assisting on the play was Jordan Randall, who notched his 16th assist, and Kevin MacKay, who picked up his twelfth.
With eight minutes ticked off the clock in the second period, the Wings found themselves staring down a penalty kill once again. But Clay Cosentino managed to break the puck loose at the Wings’ blue line and skate down the ice, fighting off a defender and beating Norseman goalie Paxton Geisel on the backhand. Cosentino’s shorthanded goal was his eleventh on the season, and Cade Neilson got credit for his 32nd assist.
St. Cloud managed to get back within one at the 13:42 mark in the second when Ryan O’Neill put the Norsemen on the board. Both teams took twelve shots on goal in the middle period and Aberdeen skated into the final break with the 2-1 lead.
Aberdeen widened the gap just over the halfway mark in the third when Natan Vertes tipped in a slap shot from Cosentino; Vertes got his 22nd goal, while the Wings’ captain claimed his league-leading 40th assist. Each team killed off another penalty before the Norsemen pulled Geisel from between the pipes and moved to the man-advantage. But Aberdeen held off the attack and Cullen Ferguson sealed St. Cloud’s fate, sending a puck nearly the full length of the ice to find the empty net. After outshooting the Norsemen 12-8 in the third, the Wings skated to the 4-1 victory.
Overall, the Wings outshot St. Cloud 37-25. Aberdeen went 0-3 on the power play while holding St. Cloud to 0-4. Norsemen netminder Geisel stopped 33 of 36 shots sent his way, while Aberdeen’s Jake Sibell stopped 24 of 25 shots en route to his 39th win of the season. He continues to lead the NAHL with a 1.16 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.
The teams will face each other Saturday night for the second part of the weekend series in Alexandria. The puck drops at 8:10 p.m. Wings fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV login, or live at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Aberdeen. The game’s audio is always broadcast via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.
There are also a few spots left on the fan bus heading to Alexandria. The bus loads at 2:30 p.m. at the Odde Ice Center and hits the road at 3 p.m. Email Aaron Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org to snag your spot and cheer on the Wings in person.