BLAINE, MN (AberdeenWings.com) – The Aberdeen Wings faced plenty of adversity to start the 2022-23 hockey season, but also had their fair share of triumph, coming out of the 2022 NAHL Showcase with a 2-2-0-0 record and plenty of takeaways.
On the first day of the showcase, the Wings defeated the Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4-1. Day two saw the Wings taking on the Odessa Jackalopes and skating away with a 5-2 victory. The Wings’ first loss came on Friday when they fell to a tough Maryland Black Bears squad 4-1.
And on Saturday, the final day of the Showcase, the Amarillo Wranglers defeated the Wings 4-2.
The Wranglers seemed to figure out the Wings penalty kill unit, who had only given up one goal in 17 chances. On their first opportunity, Rihards Simanovics grabbed a power play goal at the 6:30 mark in the first period to give Amarillo the 1-0 lead.
The Wings tied the game at the 7:35 mark in the second period when Jonathan Barker sent a shot from the blue line that went wide of the net, but Anthony Galante picked up the rebound off the boards and swatted it into the back of the net. Galante got his first goal of the season, while Barron Stibbe and Barker each grabbed their first assists.
Five minutes later, the Wings found themselves on the kill again — and once again, the Wranglers scored on the power play when Simanovics got his second of the game at the 12:40 mark.
Trailing by one heading into the final period, Aberdeen applied the pressure but couldn’t capitalize. Amarillo made life even more difficult when Logan Cleary scored at the 15:44 mark. Things looked grim, but Zachary Reim made things interesting when he fired from the point to bring his team back within one at the 18:06 mark. Reim got his second goal of the season while Luke Lindsay racked up his fourth assist.
However, the Wings pulled netminder Cole Moore from between the pipes to give themselves the extra attacker, and Kyle DeMarco found the empty net at the 19:20 mark to seal the deal.
Despite the loss, Wings head coach Steve Jennings said there were a lot of good takeaways from the four-day tournament.
“I like the chemistry the group is developing with each other,” he said. “We showed some very good signs of comprehension on our teaching. We need to get more consistency in our game so when we are doing good things, they don’t fade.”
The Wings returned to Aberdeen with four league points and some key areas to focus on. The week ahead should be a good one as the season home opener happens this weekend against the Bismarck Bobcats. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night with the puck hitting the ice at 7:15 p.m.
Fans can purchase tickets ahead of the game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com or at the door on game nights.
“We need to build off the successes we had and work to improve on key areas,” Jennings said ahead of the home opener. “The Showcase is a great event and does a lot for all of us. Now we need to get into our weekly rhythm — good practices, good rest and be ready to go.”