After a tough shootout loss Friday night, the Aberdeen Wings knew they had to dig in for a road win Saturday.
And they did just that, taking three of four points over the Austin Bruins after a 5-3 victory to finish the weekend.
In Friday’s matchup, it took nearly 50 minutes for either team to find the back of the net. But in Saturday’s game, Josh Giuliani put the Bruins on the board first at the 11:43 mark. The Wings responded less than five minutes later, however, when Zachary Reim fed the puck over to Brodrick Williams, who fired from the blue line and into the back of the net at the 16:16 mark. It was Williams’ third goal on the year, while Landon Parker notched his fifth assist and Reim got his third.
Aberdeen took 13 shots while holding Austin to just four in the game’s opening stanza, but nonetheless the teams headed into the first break tied up at one apiece.
Austin swapped out goaltenders to start the middle period and the Wings continued to apply the pressure, but the Bruins got the go-ahead goal at the 4:15 mark when Walter Zacher led a 2-on-1 attack against Wings goaltender Cole Moore. Seconds before the goal, a Bruins player went down on the ice and needed medical attention that led to a lengthy break in the game, forcing both teams to retreat to their locker rooms.
Play resumed over 25 minutes later with Austin on their first power play opportunity of the game, but the Wings killed the penalty before going on the power play themselves. With 13 seconds remaining with the man-advantage, Nils Forselius got the puck and skated into the circle, firing a shot off the crossbar to tie the game at two apiece at the 9:42 mark. Forselius picked up his third goal on the year on the equalizer.
Immediately following the goal, a bench minor was assessed with a game ejection for Bruins head coach Steve Howard. Another Bruin was also assessed a penalty, so the Wings immediately went on a 5-on-3 power play. Just over a minute later, Ronan Walsh cycled the puck behind Austin’s net and fed across the crease, and Forselius was there to put the puck into the back of the net for his second power play goal of the game at the 10:54 mark. Walsh got his third assist on the season, and Alexander Gullichsen picked up his fourth.
Just over 20 seconds later and tempers starting to flare, Austin was assessed another penalty, giving the Wings their second 5-on-3 power play — but the Bruins killed off the short two-man disadvantage, as well as the second penalty assessed. Just eight seconds after returning to even strength, Kyle Contessa found the puck in the crease and fired at Bruins’ netminder Trent Wiemken; he made the initial save, but Contessa grabbed his own rebound for the 4-2 lead at the 13:24 mark. It was his third goal as an Aberdeen Wing, while Dylan Wegner grabbed his fourth assist on the year and Luke Lindsay racked up his fifth.
The Wings outshot the Bruins 12-7 in the middle period while capitalizing on two power play chances and skated into the game’s final break with the two-goal cushion.
Following a late Wings penalty, Austin started the third period with 1:59 on the power play, but the Wings killed the penalty. The game went to 4-on-4 hockey following coincidental penalties less than five minutes in and Austin picked up the pressure against Moore. They got the goal they were looking for when Jackson Luther scored with just three seconds remaining on a Bruins’ power play, and the Wings held a one-goal lead as the minutes ticked down.
With almost two minutes exactly remaining on the clock, Wiemken headed for the bench to give Austin the extra attacker. But the Wings gained possession of the puck and Nikolai Tishkevich skated in and found the empty net at the 18:46 mark, getting his seventh goal on the year; Williams picked up his second assist on the goal. The Bruins continued to fire the puck but the Wings held strong, taking the 5-3 win when the final horn sounded.
The Bruins doubled the Wings in shots on goal in the third, but overall Aberdeen outshot Austin 32-25. They also went 2-4 on the power play while holding Austin to 1-4.
“Special teams won tonight’s game, in my mind,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said. “Power play was a difference-maker and the penalty kill did what’s expected of them.”
Aberdeen found themselves playing from behind twice in the contest before grabbing and holding onto the lead, and Langer lauded his team’s ability to dig in for the win.
“We needed to face adversity and find a way to be successful early in the season,” he said. “It allows us to grow as a team. Each game needs to be an opportunity to become a better team.”
The Wings (5-5-0-2) have a week of practice ahead of them before hitting the road next weekend to face the Minot Minotauros (7-4-0-0) inside Maysa Arena on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22. Fans can watch the away games using their HockeyTV login (subscription required) 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, or on The Rock App. The Wings will return to the Odde Ice Center the following weekend, Oct. 28-29 to host the Bruins (5-2-0-3) at home.
“We have to look forward to the week of preparation,” Langer said of the upcoming road we. “It’s an opportunity to improve our game. Minot will be a tough test and that should keep us focused.”