The Aberdeen Wings continue their march to triple-digit points after a dominating 7-1 win over the Minnesota Wilderness Friday night inside Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
Not only did the Wings pick up a franchise-best 48th win, but goalie Jake Sibell earned his 41st win of the season, also a franchise record. Now 48-4-0-1 on the year, Aberdeen has 97 points heading into the final three games of the regular season.
The scoring started just over three minutes into the game when the Wings found themselves on an early power play — that’s when Nico deVita shot from the point to put the Wings on the board. He was assisted by Clayton Cosentino and Spencer Schneider, who picked up his 15th assist on the season.
However, the Wilderness answered back less than two minutes later when Will Traeger got his sixth on the season to tie the game 1-1. But with just over two minutes left in the period, Jordan Randall grabbed a feed from behind the net to put the Wings back on top; he was assisted by Payton Matsui and Jakob Stender. After outshooting Minnesota 14-9 and going 1-1 on the power play, the Wings skated into the first break leading 2-1.
Randall picked things up where he left off, grabbing a rebound at the 4:26 mark in the second period to give Aberdeen the two-point cushion and his second goal of the night. Kyle Gaffney picked up his 18th apple of the season and deVita notched his 30th. Then, at the 18:39 mark, Will Arquiett picked up a rebound to put one in the empty back door and give the Wings the 4-1 lead. Jake Goldowski and Michael Reed grabbed their ninth and tenth assists, respectively.
The final period was once again all Aberdeen. Cosentino fired a one-timer from the circle just under four minutes in to grab his twelfth goal of the season. Stender picked up his second assist of the night and 15th on the year, while Vertes grabbed his 18th. Just over two minutes later, the Wings found themselves on a two-man advantage and Schneider put away the sixth goal of the night, his 23rd on the season. Matsui and Cosentino each grabbed their second apples of the night, Matsui’s 36th overall and Cosentino’s league-leading 42nd overall.
The game’s final goal came late in the period and during 4-on-4 hockey — defenseman Kevin MacKay found himself behind the defense and skated in to beat Wilderness goalie Jacob Zacharewicz for his fifth goal of the season at the 17:43 mark. Cullen Ferguson grabbed his twelfth assist while Arquiett picked up his 16th. Aberdeen dominated shots on goal in the third, taking eleven while only allowing Minnesota five, and skated to the 7-1 victory.
“We have relied on our depth all season to win games,” Wings head coach and general manager Scott Langer said about his team’s depth. “We have four lines each night that put in the work. I think in order to be successful in a tough league, you have to have depth.”
Thirteen Wings players added to their point totals during the Friday matchup — Cosentino’s three-point game puts him in fifth overall in the league with 54 points, while Matsui’s two-point showing keeps him in first place with 62 points. He’s scored five points in his last three games.
Sibell’s franchise record-setting win, in which he stopped 21 of 22 shots sent his way, keeps him at the top of the league’s goalie list, boasting a 1.20 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. He’s also tied for the league’s record for most shutouts in a season, tallying eleven.
“Sibell becoming the most winningest goaltender in franchise history is a testament to the time he has put in throughout his junior career,” Langer said of his star goalie. “He has earned everything he has gotten and the players in front of him work for him.”
Zacharewicz turned away 27 of the 34 shots the Wings sent his way. Aberdeen went 2-5 on the power play while holding Minnesota to 0-3. The success of the special teams and the tenacity of the players, especially when penalties starting picking up for Minnesota in the third, is something that Langer is impressed with each game.
“That’s just it, teams think they can go after us,” he said. “Our guys thrive on that type of play. This team plays for one another night in and night out.”
Langer himself also picked up a milestone in the win — the most wins he’s had in a single season as a head coach. But he’s quick to credit his players for the success.
“I have been a part of some really good teams, but not one that has won this many games,” he said. “The men in our locker room deserve all the credit for their perseverance.”
The teams will face off again Saturday night inside the Northwoods Credit Union Arena; puck drops at 7:15 p.m. Fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV login or live at Buffalo Wing & Rings in Aberdeen. Listen to Jay Kleinknect call the game via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.