Wings win fourth straight in 5-4 Saturday shootout

For the second time in as many games, the Aberdeen Wings took a shootout win over the North Iowa Bulls inside the Mason City Arena, sweeping them on their home ice in thrilling fashion.

Saturday’s matchup was eerily similar to Friday’s — the Bulls got on the board early, took a two-goal lead, the Wings tied it up and the game went to a shootout with the Wings winning the contest. Even the events of the shootout exactly mirrored Friday’s game.

The Bulls got on the board just eight seconds into the game after Logan Dombrowsky took advantage of a Wings turnover. But Aberdeen went on the power play for the very first time on the weekend at the 4:41 mark, and Hugo Allais needed less than a minute, firing a rocket from the high slot to tie the game at one apiece. It was his second goal of the weekend, sixth overall, while Owen DuBois grabbed his twelfth assist and Landry Schmuck got his seventh.

The Wings found themselves on the penalty kill at the 8:33 mark and North Iowa needed just four seconds of the man-advantage when Jack Mesic put his team back on top. Then, at the 11:09 mark, Carter Rapalje netted another one to put the Bulls up by two.

After a tight first period, with the Wings outshooting the Bulls 8-7 and both teams seeing the penalty box, North Iowa had the 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

When it seemed like the Bulls had the momentum in their favor, the Wings took the game back into their own hands during the middle period with three unanswered goals. The first came 91 seconds into the period when Kyle Gaffney took a backhanded shot and Schmuck was there to poke in the rebound. It was his eighth goal on the year, while Chase Davis got his third assist on the weekend, tenth overall, and Gaffney racked up his 19th.

Minutes later and on the power play once again, Cade Neilson fed the puck out to Will Gilson, who fired from the high slot — and Neilson found his way into the crease to redirect the puck into the back of the net at the 5:43 mark. Neilson got his 17th goal on the year, while Gilson got his eighth assist and Hugo Gustafsson got his sixth.

Aberdeen took their first and only lead of the game at the 10:02 mark when Ronan Walsh found the puck on his stick just after a faceoff and dragged it around Bulls netminder Hunter Garvey to put the Wings up 4-3. Walsh notched his 13th goal on the season, while Jacob Bosse grabbed his 17th assist and Neilson racked up his 29th.

The Wings took 13 shots on goal in the middle period, with three finding the back of the net, and held the Bulls to just five shots while also killing off a penalty.

At the 5:07 mark in the final period, Joey Potter scored for North Iowa to tie the game at four apiece. Each team killed off a penalty and the Wings had a chance to take the game in regulation when they went on the power play at the 18:23 mark in the third. But the Bulls held them at bay before taking a second penalty just before time expired — which meant the two teams headed to overtime once again.

With the two North Iowa penalties, overtime started five-on-three instead of the usual three-on-three. The Bulls killed off the Wings’ power play chances and found themselves with the extra attacker themselves after an Aberdeen penalty with 25 seconds remaining in OT. But the Wings killed off the attack and the two teams once again stared down their second shootout in as many games.

Identical to Friday’s matchup, both the first and second shooters for Aberdeen — Seamus Campbell and Gaffney — as well as the first and second shooters for North Iowa — Byron Hartley and Michael Mesic — were denied. Wings’ third shooter, Neilson, found an empty corner of the net, and Wings goaltender Greg Ororz denied Jake LaRusso to complete the perfect shootout.

Aberdeen dominated shots on goal in both the final period and overtime; in fact, the Bulls didn’t get a single shot off during the extra five minutes. Overall, Aberdeen took 38 shots while holding the Bulls to just 15, eleven of which Orosz denied in addition to the three shootout chances. The Wings held the Bulls to 1-3 on the power play, maintaining their status as the league’s top penalty killing unit with a 90.5 kill percentage. Aberdeen also went 2-5 on the power play themselves, improving to 21.1 percent and taking over the top slot in the Central Division.

With the sweep, the Wings (18-12-0-2) took four important league points while the Bulls (15-11-1-4) escaped the weekend with two for themselves. Their next matchup comes when the Bulls travel to the Odde Ice Center on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28-29.

But first, the Wings will host the Bismarck Bobcats inside the Odde this Friday, Jan. 14 before heading up to North Dakota to face them on their home ice Saturday. Fans can get tickets ahead of Friday’s game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com or when the doors open before the game at 5:30 p.m. $10 general admission tickets can also be purchased at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.