Riding high off a dominating Friday victory, the Aberdeen Wings stayed in the win column in a come-from-behind bout Saturday night, sweeping the St. Cloud Norsemen on the road inside the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex.
It wasn’t the start the Wings wanted, but it certainly was the finish that made the difference.
Aberdeen found themselves in a two-goal deficit early on when Kade Peterson scored just :53 seconds into the contest, and Jeremiah Konkel doubled the Norsemen lead at the 6:17 mark with a power play goal.
But the Wings got the man-advantage later in the period and capitalized with just three seconds remaining on the power play. Nils Forselius dug the puck out of the corner and centered to Alexander Gullichsen; his shot was denied, but Kyle Contessa was there to put the rebound in at the 16:10 mark. Contessa picked up his second goal on the weekend, while Gullichsen grabbed his third assist on the year and Forselius got his second.
Just over a minute later, the Wings evened the score when Luke Backel skated into the St. Cloud zone before turning to center to Landon Parker, who fired from between the circles at the 17:17 mark. Parker notched his second goal on the year, while Backel and Devon Carlstrom each picked up their first assists.
St. Cloud outshot the Wings 12-9 in the opening period and each team grabbed a power play goal, and the two teams headed into the first break tied up at two.
Aberdeen grabbed their first lead of the game less than two minutes into the second period. The Wings entered the Norsemen zone with Ronan Walsh passing cross-ice to Parker, who quickly sent a backdoor pass to Jackson Anderson for the 3-2 lead at the 1:51 mark. Anderson got his first goal wearing the Wings’ sweater, while Parker and Walsh each notched their second assists of the season.
The Norsemen applied the pressure after losing their early lead, peppering Wings goaltender Cole Moore with shots; one made its way past him at the 17:24 mark from Hunter Hanson. St. Cloud had a chance to take the lead back after being awarded a penalty shot, but Moore made a big glove save to keep the score even. Despite St. Cloud taking 15 shots on Moore while the Wings only fired off six, the teams skated into the game’s second intermission tied up at three apiece.
Aberdeen was awarded two more power play opportunities early in the final period but the Norsemen killed both, even getting a good shorthanded look that Moore turned away. St. Cloud was awarded a second penalty shot following the attempt — and just like their first opportunity, Moore denied the goal and the score remained tied at three.
The intensity and pace of the game picked up heading into the final minutes with both teams looking for the go-ahead goal — and it was the Wings who found it. Brodrick Williams tried sending the puck to the net from the blue line but it was blocked; he grabbed the loose puck and skated in, firing from the middle of the circle and into the back of the net for the 4-3 lead at the 16:54 mark. Williams got his first goal on the season while Contessa racked up his fourth assist.
With Aberdeen leading by one and time ticking down, St. Cloud pulled netminder Will Ingemann from between the pipes with a minute-and-a-half to play — and less than 30 seconds later, the Wings got the insurance goal they were looking for when Nikolai Tishkevich fired from outside the circle and into the empty net at the 18:57 mark, grabbing his fourth goal on the year; Carlstrom picked up his second assist of the game.
At the 19:45 mark and Ingemann back on the bench following an icing call, Williams cleared the puck deep in the Aberdeen zone, bouncing a backhand pass off the boards and straight into the open net for his second goal of the game and the three-goal lead. With that, the Wings held off the Norsemen for the game’s final 15 seconds and took the 6-3 victory and weekend road sweep.
“There were times during the game when it was getting hard and there was the choice of either giving into it or pushing through,” Wings head coach Steve Jennings said after the win. “I thought they did a great job pushing through. That was a big step for this group.”
The Wings went 1-3 on the power play while St. Cloud went 1-4. The Norsemen outshot the Wings 38-22 despite taking the three-goal loss — and Moore denied 35 of the 38 he saw, including two penalty shots that could have changed the game’s momentum for the worse.
“He was awesome,” Jennings said of his keeper. “We wanted to upgrade our goaltending here and he was outstanding for us tonight. He was exactly what we needed.”
Overall, Jennings was very happy with his team’s ability to come out on top two nights in a row while on the road, especially finding a way out of an early deficit.
“The guys showed a lot of resilience tonight,” he said. “We had a hard work week fixing some things that weren’t great last week, and I thought the guys really adapted to what we were teaching and brought it into the game. It was great. They’re a very resilient group and I’m proud of them.”
Over the two-game weekend series, 15 skaters put up points for the Wings, led by Contessa and Walsh, who each had two goals and an assist, and Parker, who tallied one goal and two assists. Six others — Gullichsen, Forselius, Anderson, Tishkevich, Carlstrom and Williams — each grabbed two points apiece.
That even spread across all lines is something Jennings was happy to see, and he was pleased with how well his squad responded to the challenge of getting back into the win column with some confidence.
“They totally understood what the weekend was about,” he said. “We get swept in the home opener and then have to get on the road and these two wins get us back to .500. We can start to build some momentum. They did a great job understanding what we needed to do and then stepping up and doing it.”
The Wings (4-4-0-0) will hope to carry that momentum into the upcoming weekend’s game against the North Iowa Bulls (6-2-0-0), who currently sit at the top of the Central Division. Doors open at the Odde Ice Center on Friday and Saturday night, Oct. 7-8, at 5:30 p.m. with the puck scheduled to drop at 7:15 p.m. Fans can purchase their tickets ahead of the game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com, or at the door on game nights. $10 general admission tickets can also be purchased at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.