With just seven league points separating second-place Aberdeen Wings and sixth-place Bismarck Bobcats in the Central Division standings, Friday’s matchup between the two teams was an important one as the regular season’s end draws nearer.
But the Wings played a solid game that saw a perfect penalty kill, a perfect power play and three different lines contributing to the scoring, skating to a 4-1 win and snapping the Bobcat’s seven-game win streak in front of a packed crowed at the Odde Ice Center.
After a fast, back-and-forth start to open the game, Anthony Galante broke open the scoring for the Wings at the 11:52 mark on a delayed penalty. Dominic Schimizzi started a 3-on-2 rush by passing the puck to Luke Amell, who found an open Galante flying in between the circles; while his initial shot was blocked, Galante grabbed his own rebound and slid the puck past Bismarck goaltender Oskar Spinnars Nordin to put Aberdeen up 1-0. Galante grabbed his sixth goal of the season, while Amell got his second assist and Schimizzi notched his 14th. After each team recorded eleven shots on goal in the opening period, the Wings skated into the first break with the one-goal lead.
Wanting a quick start to the middle stanza, Aberdeen got on the board again early when Seamus Campbell dug the puck out from the corner and fed to the top of the circle where Hugo Allais came flying in for a quick shot through traffic and past Spinnars Nordin at the 2:07 mark. It was the defenseman’s seventh goal on the year, while Campbell picked up his eleventh and Owen DuBois got his 15th.
Aberdeen increased their lead to three later in the period when Cade Neilson turned and fired at Spinnars Nordin, who blocked the puck but sent it nearly straight in the air above his head. The Wings packed in the bodies waiting for it to land and Ronan Walsh found it, backhanding it in from the side of the crease for this 20th goal of the season at the 10:58 mark in the second. Neilson grabbed his 43rd assist on the year and Jacob Bosse grabbed his 21st.
The Wings held the advantage in shots on goal, taking 17 while holding the Bobcats to ten, even killing a penalty in the process, and skated into the final intermission leading 3-0.
Aberdeen killed off two more penalties in the third period and were eyeing the shutout when Bismarck got a shorthanded goal from Owen Michaels with a minute-and-a-half on the clock. But the home team gave their fans one more thing to cheer about when Dominic Schimizzi answered back 35 seconds later and still on the power play, grabbing the puck at middle ice and skating around a defenseman to fire the puck home at the 19:04 mark. The unassisted goal was his second as a Wing and eleventh overall on the year.
“It was a big third period for us,” Wings head coach Steve Jennings said after the win. “We were in good control going into the third and Bismarck pushed pretty heavy. We gave up that shorthanded goal late but we came right back with the power play goal. It was a pretty complete game overall.”
The completeness of the game certainly showed, with Aberdeen going a perfect 1-1 on the penalty kill and getting a goal on a delayed penalty call — they were also a perfect 3-3 on the penalty kill. And when the dust settled, nine different Wings players added points to their totals in the contest.
“We had three different lines score three different goals, and we scored three different ways with those three lines, plus a power play goal,” Jennings continued. “That’s big. That’s what I liked about our guys tonight. We worked on some things this week and they did what we worked on.”
Bismarck managed to catch back up in shots on goal in the final period, firing 14 at Aberdeen netminder Anton Castro while holding the Wings to seven, and overall the two teams each fired 35 shots; Castro turned away 34 of those shots for his fifth win of the season.
“Castro was great tonight,” Jennings said. “He gave us a chance to win. He settled the play for us, was a calming influence and just what we wanted him to be.”
And Coach Jennings was eager to note that they had a seventh man on the ice with the team.
“We had a nice, big crowd,” he said. “I loved them. They were engaged in the game and they were the difference maker.”
The Wings hope for more crowd support Saturday night as they face the Bobcats in the hunt for a weekend sweep. Doors open at the Odde at 5:30 p.m. with the puck hitting the ice at 7:15 p.m. Celebrate College Night with us; show a valid student ID at the door for a $5 general admission ticket. Fans can also purchase tickets online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com, or get $10 general admission tickets at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.
We also welcome House of Glass as the game’s corporate sponsor inside the AutoMaxx Party Deck, plus fans are invited to stick around after the game to Skate with the Wings.