The Aberdeen Wings improved to 25-1-0-1 on the season after defeating the Austin Bruins Saturday night, sweeping the weekend and improving their mark to 51 points on the season.
Saturday’s matchup mirrored Friday’s in a lot of ways: Aberdeen scored first, Austin tied it up and the Wings got the go-ahead and the empty netter to snag the 3-1 victory.
Things got off to a quick start when Thomas Manty got his twelfth goal of the season to put the Wings on the board just 2:16 into the game. He was assisted by Payton Matsui, who snagged his 19th assist on the season, and Natan Vertes, who notched his eleventh. Each team had a chance with the extra attacker but neither managed another goal. The Wings outshot the Bruins 8-7, and they headed into the first intermission leading 1-0.
Shots on goal were a little more lopsided in the second period, with Aberdeen outshooting Austin 14-4. Austin killed one penalty and Aberdeen killed two, but the score remained the same heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
At the 9:08 mark in the third, nearly 47 minutes after Manty’s goal, Austin’s Travis Shoudy tied things up on the power-play. After a Bruins slashing penalty, Spencer Schneider tapped one in off the rebound on the power-play to give the Wings the late lead again. He was assisted by Cullen Ferguson and Jordan Randall.
Trailing 2-1, the Bruins pulled goalie Tyler Shea to give themselves the man-advantage; however, Liam Fraser found the empty net with one minute left on the clock, assisted by Nico deVita, which sealed the 3-1 victory for the Wings.
Austin falls to 7-12-2-2 on the season.
Aberdeen head coach Scott Langer was impressed with his team’s ability to win on the road.
“I think any time you can go into another team’s arena and take four points, it’s a big weekend,” he said. “We found different ways to win, and that makes us better.”
Overall, Aberdeen outshot Austin 35-22, once again outshooting the Bruins in each period. Wings goalie Jake Sibell stopped 21-22, solidifying his position at the top of the NAHL goalie list with his league-leading 23rd win. Austin’s Shea stopped 32-34. The Wings went 1-4 on the power play, while Austin went 1-5.
Following the season’s 25th victory, Langer knows the importance of grinding it out week to week, especially at a point in the season when games are constant, travel is plentiful and a target continues to grow.
“Everyone is giving us their best game,” he said. “It’s going to be like that every weekend. We need to embrace it and let us be better for it.”
Aberdeen returns to action at home next weekend, Feb. 19 and 20, when the Minot Minotauros visit the Odde Ice Arena. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. both nights and the puck always hits the ice at 7:15 p.m. Fans can snag their seat at tickets.AberdeenWings.com.