The Aberdeen Wings successfully completed the weekend sweep over the Central Division’s top-ranked Austin Bruins Saturday night in spectacular shutout fashion, taking a 3-0 win in front of a packed crowd at the Odde Ice Center.
Aberdeen got a power play goal in the contest and killed off eight penalties, while Cole Moore got his first shutout wearing the Wings sweater, helping his team grab four coveted league points over the weekend.
Similar to Friday’s matchup, the game was scoreless after the first 20 minutes. The Wings edged out Austin in shots on goal 9-7, and each team killed off two penalties — and a late Wings penalty in the period’s final minute gave the Bruins the man-advantage to start off the middle stanza.
But Aberdeen’s penalty-killing unit stood strong and the Wings got the go-ahead goal they were looking for just as the box opened for 5-on-5 hockey to resume. Nikolai Tishkevich got the puck deep in Aberdeen’s zone and skated up the ice, firing a long shot from the top of the circle that went straight into the back of the net. The eventual game-winner was Tishkevich’s eleventh goal on the season, while Moore was credited with his second assist of the season.
With penalties aplenty from both sides of the bench, the Wings killed off a 4-on-3 attack before going on the power play again later in the period themselves. And just 41 seconds into the man-advantage, the puck was cycled around Austin’s zone to Devon Carlstrom, who fired from the top of the circle. The save was initially made but snuck past Bruins’ netminder Ethan Robertson, crossing the goal line before a defender could sweep it away at the 13:44 mark. Carlstrom’s power play goal was his third overall on the year, while Dylan Wegner notched his sixth assist and Patrick O’Connell racked up his 15th.
The Wings had to kill off two more penalties in the middle period and Austin was able to outshoot them 14-10 — but Moore came up big several times and the Wings held onto the two-goal lead heading into the game’s final intermission.
The Bruins had to kill off two more penalties themselves in the third, while Aberdeen killed off yet another before Austin pulled Robertson from between the pipes with just over two minutes on the clock. They gave Aberdeen heavy pressure with the extra attacker, but Logan Gravink found the puck near the Wings’ blue line and fired a shot from there, which skidded into the back of the net at the 18:34 mark. The unassisted goal was Gravink’s first while wearing the Wings sweater.
The Bruins kept things interesting after coincidental penalties 16 seconds later, and the Wings were assessed another penalty with just 28 seconds remaining in the game. But once again, Aberdeen stood tall on the kill and Moore stood tall between the pipes, denying the attack and taking the 3-0 shutout win when the final horn sounded.
“You got to play perfect hockey,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said about sweeping the division’s top-ranked team. “Specialty teams have to be good. They’re a good hockey team; they’re skilled, their goaltending is at the top of the league, and it takes a good effort. But our guys had a good week of preparation and they applied everything we put in place. I give credit to the guys.”
Overall, the Wings outshot the Bruins 31-27 while going 1-5 on the power play. But most impressive is they also held Austin to 0-8 on their power play — in fact, the Wings have only given up one power play goal in 24 chances over their past six games.
“We had no choice but to kill those penalties. Those penalties that we killed created energy on our bench and with that energy our guys just did a great job,” Langer said. “We knew once we got 5-on-5 that we were going to be in good shape. Our guys were up to the task and obviously our goaltending was very good.”
While the Wings only allowed 27 shots despite the eight kills, Moore denied every shot he faced, including some close scrambles in the crease. The Bowling Green commit’s first NAHL shutout came on his eleventh win of the season.
“I think that’s why he’s a Division I goalie,” Langer said of his netminder. “He has the ability to put the past in the past and step up to the plate. Now that we have a two-goalie tandem again that is really good, I think those two goalies are going to battle for time. Saturday night in the NAHL is extremely tough to win a hockey game and for Cole to post a shutout and our guys to play that well defensively, that’s a positive thing, especially going into next weekend in their building.”
Over the weekend, the Tishkevich led the Wings in scoring with two goals — both game-winners — and an assist, while Carlstrom also notched three points with a goal and two assists. Wegner and Parker each grabbed a goal and an assist apiece, and Jonathan Barker picked up two assists; six more Wings each added a point over the weekend.
Aberdeen (14-8-1-2) eyes a weekend ahead on the road against the same opponent inside Austin’s (17-4-2-3) barn at Riverside Arena with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop scheduled for both Friday and Saturday night, Dec. 16-17. Fans can watch the games using their HockeyTV login, or catch the action live at Buffalo Wings & Rings, the official home for all Wings away games. The game’s audio will be broadcasted via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.
Langer is looking forward to the week of preparation as the team heads to Austin before the holiday break.
“It’s going to be a hard work week. We have to be ready to go come Friday night when that puck drops and we know we’re going to get their best game,” he said. “But it’s going to make us better. This week’s going to make us better, playing them again is going to make us better. They’re a good hockey team and there’s a reason they’re in first place — and we’re just a team that’s trying to catch them.”