Wings rebound for big OT road win

Jan 21, 2023

After the Aberdeen Wings struggled both offensively and defensively Thursday, they turned things around and created plenty of trouble for the Bismarck Bobcats, skating to a 4-3 overtime road win Friday night.

“We forgot that game and moved quickly to tonight’s game,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said. “We played well with a short bench. The compete was there.”

Defensively, they limited Bismarck’s good chances, edging them out overall in shots 37-34. They also created more plays offensively, holding good puck possession and finding two power play goals. And a perfect pass led to an exciting finish to put the Wings back in the win column.

After starting the game with good zone presence and a handful of shots on goal, the Wings went on their first power play opportunity over halfway through the period — and it took them just 33 seconds to get the lead. That’s when Owen Benoit fired from the point, which was blocked, but Nikolai Tishkevich found the rebound, turned and fired for the lead at the 14:10 mark. It was Tishkevich’s 12th goal on the year, while Benoit got his second assist and Roope Tuomioksa, in his first game with the Wings, got his first assist.

Wings goaltender Geno Pichora denied several good looks, but the Bobcats managed to tie things up with a power play goal of their own from Calvin Hanson at the 19:24 mark in the first. The Wings outshot Bismarck 13-10 and the teams skated into the first break tied at one apiece.

The Wings also had good puck possession to start the second period, and Pichora kept the game tied following a breakaway, but Chase Beacom snuck a puck through traffic from the point for the Bobcats’ only lead of the game at the 10:53 mark. However, Aberdeen evened things up less than four minutes later on another power play goal. The puck once again cycled around to Benoit, who took another big shot from the point that was redirected by Tishkevich into the back of the net at the 14:47 mark. Tishkevich got his second goal of the night, 13th overall on the year, while Benoit got his third assist and Michael Casey got his 15th overall assist, his first while wearing the Wings’ sweater.

The game didn’t say tied at two for long — Devon Carlstrom found a rebound and sent a centering pass from the circle to Ronan Wash, who spun and fired a shot past Bismarck netminder Linards Lipskis for the 3-2 lead at the 17:36 mark. Walsh picked up his seventh goal on the season, while Carlstrom got his tenth assist and Logan Gravink picked up his seventh.

Aberdeen had to kill off another penalty in the period’s final minutes but Casey made things hard, creating issues in the Bobcat’s zone that led to a strong finish to hold the lead. The Wings once again outshot Bismarck in the period, this time 15-11, and took the one-goal cushion heading into the final break.

But the Bobcats wouldn’t go away, getting their second power play goal of the game when Patrick Johnson grabbed a rebound at the 5:23 mark in the third. With the game tied at three apiece, each team killed off another penalty in the final stanza, and the Wings’ defense stood tall to keep the score tied in the final minutes of regulation.

After a quick break, three-on-three overtime hockey started and both teams managed to have possession, but the Bobcats didn’t get a shot off a Pichora — however, the Wings’ second shot on Lipskis was the game-winner. Bismarck skated into the Wings’ zone and nearly set up a good scoring chance before Dylan Wegner stepped in to break up the play. Wegner fed the puck to Carlstrom, who led a 2-on-1 attack into the Bobcat’s zone before sending the perfect pass through the crease to Gravink, who came flying in to put the puck into the open back door. Gravink got his fourth goal on the season, while Carlstrom notched his second assist of the game, eleventh overall, and Wegner picked up his eighth.


Aberdeen went 2-4 on the power play while the Bobcats managed 2-5 with the man-advantage. Pichora denied 31 shots for his fifth win of the season, holding a 2.84 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

With the NAHL’s trade deadline approaching, teams across the league are moving players around. And with two new faces getting onto the score sheet in Friday’s matchup, Langer was optimistic about the late-season additions.

“The players we brought in are high-IQ players that fit right in,” he said. “Both factored into our scoring.”

The two teams meet Saturday night inside the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck for their third-straight matchup of the weekend with the puck scheduled to drop at 7:15 p.m. Fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV login, or catch the action at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Aberdeen, the official home for all Wings away games. The game’s audio will be broadcast via Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock or on The Rock app.

And with two more matchups coming again next weekend, the intensity could pick up as the teams fight for league points.

“Tomorrow’s a new day with a new challenge,” Langer said. “We need to keep the same energy level and mentally be ready to go.”