It was a special evening inside the Odde Ice Center Friday night.
Not only were the Aberdeen Wings sporting special jerseys to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network, but they also skated to a 5-2 win over the North Iowa Bulls in front of a packed crowd.
The Bulls were the first to get on the board when Max Scott snuck one past Dominik Wasik, but the Wings quickly responded and never looked back.
After Scott’s goal at the 3:36 mark, the Wings responded less than a minute later when Jackson Yee crashed the back post for this fifth goal on the season. Jacob Bosse picked up his sixth assist, while Maksis Brimanis notched his third.
Just over four minutes later, at the 8:34 mark, Parks Wallace took a cross-ice pass from Anthony Messuri and put the puck in the top corner to give the Wings the 2-1 lead. It was Wallace’s first goal as a Wing, while Messuri picked up his third assist.
Patrick O’Connell wrapped up the Wings’ scoring barrage in the opening period one minute after that, taking advantage of a two-on-one rush to give the Wings the 3-1 lead. The eventual game-winner was O’Connell’s second on the season, while Cade Neilson and Kyle Gaffney each picked up their sixth assists.
Late in the period, at the 17:18 mark, Scott picked up a rebound for his second goal of the night, putting the Bulls back within one. After a busy first, with the Aberdeen edging out North Iowa 14-12 in shots on goal, the teams headed into the locker room with the Wings leading 3-2.
Aberdeen started the middle stanza on the power-play after a late penalty to close out the first period, but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. The teams traded shots and Aberdeen spent a good amount of time in the Bulls’ zone — and it finally paid off in the period’s closing minute.
At the 19:33 mark, Landry Schmuck won a battle in front of the Bulls’ net, pulling the puck out and scoring his third goal of the season. Kevin MacKay and Will Gilson each grabbed their second assists of the year.
Then, just 14 seconds later, Bosse got behind the North Iowa defense, pulled the puck to his backhand and buried it in the back of the net, scoring his second goal of the season. Neilson and Gaffney gave the one-two punch on the assist, each grabbing their seventh of the season.
It was another tight period in which the Wings outshot the Bulls 11-8, but the scoreboard was a bit more lopsided as the Wings held onto the 5-2 lead.
Aberdeen picked up three penalties in the final period but killed each one, not giving North Iowa much of a chance to get themselves back in the game. They certainly gave a big effort at the end, taking multiple shots as the final minutes ticked away, but Wasik was solid in net and took home the win as the final buzzer sounded.
“I think we really prevented them from establishing their game,” Wings head coach Steve Jennings said after the game. “They like to play their style and we didn’t allow them to do that.”
Overall, it was North Iowa on top of the shots column, taking 38 overall and holding the Wings to 32. Wasik denied 36 of the 38 shots sent his way, while Bulls goaltender Hunter Garvey turned away 27-32. Aberdeen went 0-1 on the power play, while the Bulls went 0-4.
Jennings was happy with the penalty kill, but was more impressed by his team’s ability to spread the puck around and take good chances. When the dust settled, eleven different players added points to their names.
“Everyone was getting active. It’s one of the things we talked about, not leaving the performance to one or two guys but getting the whole team active,” he said. “When every line is active for a goal, that’s when you have a good night.”
Aberdeen (6-5-0-0) and North Iowa (8-4-0-1) will get their rematch Saturday night inside the Odde. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the puck drops at 7:15 p.m. as the Children’s Miracle Network weekend continues. The Wings will once again don their specialty jerseys, sponsored by Hub City Radio and Sanford Health, and those jerseys will be auctioned off immediately following Saturday’s game.
We welcome Sanford as the game’s corporate sponsor inside the AutoMaxx Party Deck. Tickets can be purchased ahead of the game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com or at the door. $10 general admission tickets can also be purchased at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.
As for the jersey auction, Jennings invites all in attendance to stick around to see the players and raise funds for a special organization.
“Supporting this opportunity and helping the kids is important,” he said. “Playing here in the Odde, it’s a truly special place to play and the kids that come play here can’t believe it after night one. It’s all about the town and the people that come. So bring a friend.”