In the closest game of the season, the Aberdeen Wings survived the pressure and skated away with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Bismarck Bobcats to stay undefeated on the season and sweep the weekend.
It was an even affair during each of the three periods. Aberdeen outshot Bismarck 8-7 in the first period and 13-12 in the second, with each team remaining scoreless.
In the third period, Michael Reed put the Wings on the board at the 4:40 mark, assisted by Jordan Randall and Cade Neilson. However, Bismarck tied it up after a goal from Isaac Henkemeyer-Howe.
With the score tied 1-1, the two teams headed into overtime. After five minutes of sudden-death play, the teams remained tied and moved to a shoot out.
Wings captain Clayton Cosentino took the first shot, finding the back of the net against Bismarck goalie Tommy Aitken. Owen Michaels had the first attempt for the Bobcats but was denied by Wings goalie Jake Sibell. The second shooter for the Wings, Payton Matsui, also scored on his attempt, giving the Wings the edge.
Bismarck’s hopes were dashed when Sibell denied the opportunity from Bobcat’s Thomas Bergsland — and in the best-of-three shoot out, Bismarck ran out of chances to even things out.
Aberdeen outshot Bismarck 36-31. The Wings went 0-2 on the power play but denied four opportunities from the Bobcats. Sibell stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced, plus the two he denied in the shootout.
“Sibell has been on top of his game all season,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said. “Our team has a ton of confidence playing in front of him. His confidence and passion to be a Wing allowed him to dominate that shootout.”
The win was not only a big one for the team, but a big personal win for Langer as he picked up his 600th NAHL career win in the process.
“When I hit a milestone, I think about all the good people that I was able to surround myself with, the people that helped me get here,” he said. “I also give credit to all the high-character young men I have been blessed to coach.”
The Wings move to 14-0-0-0 on the season; the Bobcats fall to 4-7-0-1.
Overall, Langer was impressed with how well his team fought to the end to keep their unblemished record.
“This group has a lot of pride in playing the Wings way,” he said. “They didn’t allow the late goal against to bother them and continued to battle right through the shoot out. I feel like a close game was needed; it will make us better that we found a way to win it.”
The Wings have next weekend off — they’ll return to the ice on Friday, Dec. 18 at the Odde Ice Center when they host the St. Cloud Norsemen. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time at tickets.AberdeenWings.com.