The Aberdeen Wings snagged their 20th win of the season Friday night, shutting out the Fairbanks Ice Dogs 2-0 at the Red Baron Arena in Marshall, MN.
With just under four minutes remaining in the first period, defenseman Nico deVita sent the puck just off the goal line to fellow defender Jakob Stender, who found the open side of the net. Payton Matsui also assisted on the goal. The Wings headed into the first break with the one-point cushion.
After a scoreless second period, the scored remained 1-0 heading into the final 20 minutes of play. Fairbanks found several opportunities to score but was denied each time by Wings goalie Jake Sibell. With just over a minute and a half left of the game, the Ice Dogs pulled goalie Ryan Keyes — and just nine seconds later, Natan Vertes scored his twelfth goal of the season in the empty net. Thomas Manty picked up his twelfth assist of the season and Matsui notched his 16th.
“The entire season, we’ve been opportunistic,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said. “Tonight we made one big play and it resulted in a goal. Goaltending was first class for us tonight and the difference in the game.”
Sibell stopped all 21 shots he faced, resulting in back-to-back-to-back shutouts. He currently leads the NAHL with a goals-against average of just 1.06 and a stellar save percentage of .958.
“Jake Sibell is a winner,” Langer said. “He competes every night and allows us a chance to win. His play tonight resulted in his third shutout in three games.”
It was the first time the Wings hit the road since traveling to Bismarck back on Dec. 5. However, Aberdeen found their footing in the unfamiliar arena.
“Road hockey is different hockey,” Langer said. “It doesn’t need to be pretty. The job just had to get done. We definitely were not used to playing without our home environment.”
The Wings will have one more night away from home as they play the rematch against Fairbanks Saturday night in Marshall, MN. Aberdeen returns to the Odde on Wed., Jan. 27 against the Minot Minotauros.