The Aberdeen Wings and the Minnesota Wilderness found themselves in a shootout situation for the second time this season, but solid goaltending from Jake Sibell gave Aberdeen the 3-2 edge Friday night at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
Payton Matsui got the scoring started early with a goal at just 1:32 into the game, assisted by Kyle Gaffney and Jordan Randall. Sibell turned away seven shots from the Wilderness while Aberdeen fired twelve, and the teams headed into the first break leading 1-0.
Minnesota tied the game in the second period off a goal from Grant Docter. The two squads each took ten shots on goal and killed a penalty apiece, and headed into the game’s final 20 minutes tied 1-1.
Aberdeen gave themselves the edge at the 5:39 mark in the third when Matsui got his second of the night and 21st on the season off a pass from Cullen Ferguson and Gaffney, who notched his second apple of the night and tenth on the season. Aberdeen killed two more penalties in the third, but Ethan Wolthers tied the game again with less than two minutes in regulation and hockey fans were treated to extra hockey in the form of overtime.
However, neither team found the back of the net in OT so the game’s fate went into the hands of the goal tenders.
Matsui went first for Aberdeen but was denied by Wilderness tender Jacob Zacharewicz, while Sibell stopped Gavin Rasmussen. Zacharewicz also stopped second shooter Clay Cosentino, while Sibell denied Zach Michaelis. Aberdeen’s third shooter, Spencer Schneider, hit the breaks and snuck one in to give the Wings some breathing room — and for the third shot in a row, Sibell denied Wilderness shooter Docter to claim the win.
— NAHL (@NAHLHockey) March 27, 2021
Not only did Sibell secure the two points for the Wings, he also nabbed his well-earned 30th win of the season, improving to 30-0-0-1. That was the effort of the perfect shutout, coupled with some highlight-worthy saves in overtime.
“Jake has a such a winner’s mentality,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said. “He prepares the right way every day and has battled his entire junior career. He has earned every single win this season. He gives us a chance to win every night and tonight was no different.”
As a team, Aberdeen improves to 36-2-0-1 on the season and earned the ‘X’ for a playoff spot. They also remain perfect on the road and extend their impressive streak of winning when scoring first, going a perfect 33-0. Like most games this season, Langer knows tonight’s success came from endurance and a strong finish.
“The biggest takeaway is we didn’t become deflated as a team,” he said. “We played a solid third period and they made a nice play. The efforts of Jake Sibell in overtime and the shootout gave us the ability to win the game.”
Sibell stopped 28 of 30 shots on goal, while Zacharewicz denied 32 of 34. Both teams went 0-3 on the power play. The Wilderness drop to 15-17-1-2 on the season with the rematch set for 7:35 p.m. Saturday, March 27. Wings fans can watch the game using their HockeyTV login or live at Buffalo Wings & Rings in Aberdeen. The game’s audio can be heard on Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.
“I think we have room to grow our game heading into tomorrow,” Langer said. “We now have a game under our belt on the big ice surface so I expect us to come out hard.”