Wings grab thrilling OT win to sweep Bulls

The Aberdeen Wings were down by two goals with 18 minutes left to play in regulation hockey.

But they dug deep and applied serious pressure to tie the game and send it to overtime. And with just 35 seconds remaining, they stole the win from the North Iowa Bulls in front of a packed crowd at the Odde Ice Center Saturday night.

North Iowa got on the board first at the 6-minute mark in the first period when Nolan Abraham got one past Wings’ goaltender Cole Moore. Aberdeen outshot the Bulls 10-7 while also killing off a penalty and headed into the first break trailing by one.

The Wings also outshot North Iowa in the second period, this time 16-9, but despite some Grade A chances, couldn’t find the equalizer in the middle stanza. The Wings killed off two more penalties while the Bulls killed off one of their own, and the score remained 1-0 heading into the game’s final period.

Abraham gave his squad the two-goal lead at the 1:59 mark in the third, scoring his second goal of the game. But the final three goals belonged to the Wings.

Knowing they needed to get on the board — and quickly — the Wings scored a goal that was eventually waived off. But they took that momentum into the very next shift and got on the board at the 7:15 mark. That’s when Nick Justice skated the puck behind the Bulls’ net and spun and fired a tight-angled shot from the bottom of the circle going top shelf. It was his first goal wearing the Wings’ sweater, while Ronan Walsh picked up his sixth assist.

Just over two minutes later, the Wings entered the North Iowa zone once again and Jackson Anderson skated the puck around their net, taking his turn at a tight-angled shot. His shot went through the crease, but Patrick O’Connell was there to tap the puck in for the equalizer at the 9:35 mark. O’Connell recorded his third goal on the season, while Anderson picked up his eighth assist and Owen DuBois notched his ninth.

With the game tied at two-apiece, neither team took another penalty and continued to fire the puck. The Bulls outshot the Wings 14-9 in the final period and headed to overtime when the final horn sounded.

Each team maintained puck possession in the overtime period but North Iowa didn’t get a shot off. The Wings managed to fire off two, and the second one was the game-winner with just 35 seconds left on the clock. Devon Carlstrom skated the puck down the length of the ice and fed over to Nils Forselius, who fired a shot from between the circles that was initially blocked — but Carlstrom was there to put home the rebound to seal the comeback victory for the Wings and deliver the Bulls their first overtime loss on the year.

“I think it was good; our week was a good work week,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said about his team’s tenacity. “We put a lot of time into things this week and our guys were good. It’s good to get the first home sweep of the year. Having this feeling after a sweep in a home series is contagious.”

He attributed his veteran players with keeping an even keel and was impressed by his bench’s ability to dig themselves out of a two-goal hole late in the game.

“It shows the leadership in the locker room. The right things are being said and there wasn’t a whole lot of panic,” he said. “Sometimes teams get up and the other team goes away, but we just didn’t go away. Even after getting a goal called off, which was devastating, our guys kept fighting and they found a way to get the two points.”

Overall, Aberdeen outshot the Bulls for the second consecutive night, taking 37 shots while holding North Iowa to 30. Moore turned away 28 of those shots to grab his ninth win on the season. The Wings went 0-1 on the power play while holding the Bulls to 0-3 — over the weekend, they killed seven penalties, not allowing the Bulls a goal with the man-advantage.

“Our kill was good,” Langer said. “We didn’t get much time on the power play, even though we probably deserved more time. Not allowing their power play, which is pretty good, to get a goal is something that’s going to help you win a hockey game.”

Landon Parker led scoring for the Wings over the weekend with one goal and two assists, while O’Connell, Forselius and Nikolai Tishkevich each added a goal and an assist apiece; DuBois grabbed two assists, and eight more players each notched a point.

The Wings (10-7-1-2) move into second place in the Central Division standings with 23 league points, while North Iowa (10-8-1-0) falls to fourth with 21 points. But Aberdeen will have to watch what happens to the standings next weekend while they stay away from the ice on a bye weekend. They return to action on Saturday, Nov. 26 when they host the Bismarck Bobcats at the Odde.

“It’s time to heal,” Langer said looking ahead at the break. “We’ve got a week off and we’re right back at it against Bismarck, so it’s going to be back to work soon, but it’s good for the guys to get a little break.”