For the second weekend in a row, the Aberdeen Wings pushed a Friday matchup past regulation time. But just over two minutes into overtime play, the Minot Minotauros got the game-winner and the 3-2 win, delivering Aberdeen their first overtime loss of the season.
Minot had control over the first period — their first goal came halfway through the period when Nick O’Hanisain got past Wings netminder Cole Moore during four-on-four hockey at the 10:24 mark. Moore made a big save following a turnover shortly after, but Minot got the goal they were looking for when Jack O’Hanisain scored at the 13:55 mark to give the Minotauros the two-goal cushion. Minot outshot the Wings 13-9 in the opening period and each team killed off a penalty.
Staring at a two-goal deficit to start the second, Aberdeen was given several chances thanks to several Minotauros penalties, including a 5-on-3 power play that Minot killed off. Halfway through the period, Minot went on the power play themselves, but it was Aberdeen who found the back of the net. That’s when Patrick O’Connell and Kyle Contessa worked the puck into Minot’s zone, with O’Connell feeding a perfect pass into the crease and Contessa tipping the puck in for a shorthanded goal at the 12:01 mark. Contessa picked up his fourth goal on the season, while O’Connell notched his seventh assist and Brodrick Williams picked up his third.
Just over three minutes later and the Wings applying pressure in the Minot zone, a scuffle in front of the crease pushed Minot goaltender Lawton Zacher to the side of the net — and Owen DuBois found the loose puck and fired into a wide open side of the net to tie the game at two apiece at the 15:38 mark. The Wings’ captain grabbed his first goal of the season, while Ronan Walsh and Williams each recording their fourth assists. Despite being outshot again, this time 14-10, the Wings headed into the final break after evening the score.
With the first period going to the Minotauros and the second owned by the Wings, the game’s fate fell to the final 20 minutes. Minot had control of the start of the period with extended zone presence and eventually took 17 shots while holding Aberdeen to just six — but Moore stood tall in net, coming up with a couple crucial saves, and the game was forced to overtime after neither team scored when the final horn sounded.
Each team had puck possession in overtime play but the Wings didn’t get a shot off at Zacher. Minot got two shots, and the second got past Moore when Trevor Stachowiak skated into the crease and lifted the puck over Moore’s shoulder to get the game-winner at the 2:08 mark in overtime.
Overall, Minot nearly doubled the Wings in shots on goal, taking 46 and holding Aberdeen to just 25. Moore denied 43 shots in the OT loss. Neither team found a power play goal, with Aberdeen going 0-5 and Minot going 0-3, but the Wings did capitalize on the shorthanded goal to turn the momentum in their favor.
“I thought this team showed grit battling back from falling behind in the first period on the road,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said. “I believe our special teams can continue to take steps if we are going to improve in the standings.”
Despite being outshot, the Wings had good puck possession and had several nice scoring opportunities. Langer said his team continues to improve, and they’ll carry some lessons into Saturday’s rematch with the Minotauros.
“We took steps tonight in creating offense,” he said. “We will continue to grow in that area. It takes hard work to create Grade A chances and we have room to grow. I am confident that will happen.”
Game Two of the weekend series happens Saturday with another 7:35 p.m. puck drop at the Pepsi Rink inside Maysa Arena in Minot. Fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV login, or catch the action at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Aberdeen, the official home for all Wings away games. The game’s audio is broadcast via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.