The Aberdeen Wings rebounded from a tough Friday loss to get a big road win Saturday night, skating to a 6-3 victory over the North Iowa Bulls in Mason City.
After failing to score on the power play Friday, the Wings opened the scoring Saturday on their first power play opportunity when Patrick O’Connell fired from the blue line and Dylan Wegner redirected the puck into the back of the net at the 12:58 mark to give the Wings the 1-0 lead. It was Wegner’s second goal of the weekend and on the year, while O’Connell racked up his ninth assist on the season and Devon Carlstrom grabbed his fifth.
Just under four minutes later, Aberdeen doubled its lead when Jackson Anderson fired a shot from the point and Kyle Contessa picked up the bouncing puck at the 16:53 mark. It was Contessa’s fifth goal on the year, while Anderson grabbed his sixth assist.
The Bulls got one back two minutes later when Eli Miller scored at the 18:53 mark, cutting the Wings’ lead in half. After the first 20 minutes, Aberdeen edged out North Iowa 10-9 in shots on goal and killed off a penalty, and skated into the first break leading 2-1.
The Wings went on a four-minute power play at the start of the second, but it was North Iowa who capitalized when Justin Mexico scored with time trickling down, getting the Bulls’ second shorthanded goal on the weekend to even the score at two apiece at the 3:52 mark. But the Wings took the lead back at the 8:00 mark when Wegner got the puck at the top of the circles and fed to Bennett Koupal, who found some open space and went top shelf for the 3-2 lead. It was Koupal’s first goal wearing the Wings’ sweater, while Wegner notched his fifth assist on the year.
Aberdeen continued to apply the pressure and went on the power play again later in the period — and it took just ten seconds with the man-advantage to take the two-goal lead again. That’s when Anderson once again fired from the blue line, but this time Ronan Walsh was there to find the rebound for the Wings’ second power play goal of the game at the 13:45 mark. Walsh grabbed his fifth goal on the season, while Anderson got his second assist of the game, seventh overall on the year.
Exactly four minutes later, the Bulls pulled back within one when Blake Ulve scored at the 17:35 mark. The Wings outshot the Bulls 13-10 in the middle period but each team grabbed two goals, and the Wings headed into the final break leading 4-3.
Aberdeen stood tall in the opening minutes of the third period when back-to-back penalties led to a brief 5-on-3 penalty kill; but the Wings killed both penalties to keep their lead. At the 7:03 mark in the third, Aberdeen took back the two-goal lead when Landry Schmuck sent a perfect pass from the center line to Contessa, who found space and skated in alone, firing into the upper righthand corner for his second goal of the game and sixth overall on the year. Carlstrom grabbed his second assist of the game, sixth overall on the year, while Schmuck picked up his fifth apple.
Trailing by two and time ticking down, North Iowa pulled netminder Erik Chaffe from between the pipes with over three minutes remaining on the clock. And at the 17:48 mark, Alexander Gullichsen got the puck and fired from the center line, getting an empty net insurance goal and the 6-3 lead. It was his seventh goal on the year, while Owen DuBois grabbed his sixth assist and Walsh picked up his fifth.
The Wings took a late penalty in the third, giving North Iowa their sixth attempt with the man-advantage, but Aberdeen’s penalty kill unit continued to deny the attack — and when the final horn sounded, the Wings took the 6-3 win.
Overall, each team fired off 30 shots on goal, but the Wings went 2-7 on the power play while holding the Bulls to 0-6, something Wings head coach Scott Langer saw to be a difference-maker.
“The players executed the adjustments,” he said after the game. “When you win the special teams battle, you give your team the chance to win the game.”
Cole Moore denied 27 of the 30 shots he faced, and ten different players picked up points for the Wings. Wegner led Aberdeen with two goals and an assist over the weekend, while Contessa also notched two goals, and Walsh and Gullichsen each grabbed a goal and an assist. Carlstrom and Anderson each picked up two assists.
“We were harder to play against tonight,” Langer said of his team’s well-rounded effort. “Our identity in Aberdeen has always been to be a team that’s hard to play against. We got better tonight as a team; now it’s about bringing that into next week.”
The Bulls will head into Aberdeen’s barn next weekend as the team’s face off Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11-12, inside the Odde Ice Center. Doors open both nights at 5:30 p.m. and the puck drops at 7:15 p.m. Be on the lookout all weekend for specialty jerseys in partnership with Sanford Health, Children’s Miracle Network and Hub City Radio. The jerseys will be auctioned off immediately following Saturday’s game.
We’ll also host our annual Veteran’s Day game on Friday night; stay tuned to AberdeenWings.com for details.
Fans can purchase tickets ahead of the weekend’s games online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com or at the door on game nights. $10 general admission tickets can also be purchased at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.
“We need to continue to grow as a team this week,” Langer said ahead of the upcoming weekend. “North Iowa is a solid team and it will take a big effort to take points.”