BISMARCK, ND (AberdeenWings.com) –
Aberdeen Wings 4-3 [OT]
After the Aberdeen Wings struggled both offensively and defensively Thursday, they turned things around and created plenty of trouble for the Bismarck Bobcats, skating to a 4-3 overtime road win Friday night.
“We forgot that game and moved quickly to tonight’s game,” Wings head coach Scott Langer said. “We played well with a short bench. The compete was there.”
Defensively, they limited Bismarck’s good chances, edging them out overall in shots 37-34. They also created more plays offensively, holding good puck possession and finding two power play goals. And a perfect pass led to an exciting finish to put the Wings back in the win column.
After starting the game with good zone presence and a handful of shots on goal, the Wings went on their first power play opportunity over halfway through the period — and it took them just 33 seconds to get the lead. That’s when Owen Benoit fired from the point, which was blocked, but Nikolai Tishkevich found the rebound, turned and fired for the lead at the 14:10 mark. It was Tishkevich’s 12th goal on the year, while Benoit got his second assist and Roope Tuomioksa, in his first game with the Wings, got his first assist.
Wings goaltender Geno Pichora denied several good looks, but the Bobcats managed to tie things up with a power play goal of their own from Calvin Hanson at the 19:24 mark in the first. The Wings outshot Bismarck 13-10 and the teams skated into the first break tied at one apiece.
The Wings also had good puck possession to start the second period, and Pichora kept the game tied following a breakaway, but Chase Beacom snuck a puck through traffic from the point for the Bobcats’ only lead of the game at the 10:53 mark. However, Aberdeen evened things up less than four minutes later on another power play goal. The puck once again cycled around to Benoit, who took another big shot from the point that was redirected by Tishkevich into the back of the net at the 14:47 mark. Tishkevich got his second goal of the night, 13th overall on the year, while Benoit got his third assist and Michael Casey got his 15th overall assist, his first while wearing the Wings’ sweater.
The game didn’t say tied at two for long — Devon Carlstrom found a rebound and sent a centering pass from the circle to Ronan Wash, who spun and fired a shot past Bismarck netminder Linards Lipskis for the 3-2 lead at the 17:36 mark. Walsh picked up his seventh goal on the season, while Carlstrom got his tenth assist and Logan Gravink picked up his seventh.
Aberdeen had to kill off another penalty in the period’s final minutes but Casey made things hard, creating issues in the Bobcat’s zone that led to a strong finish to hold the lead. The Wings once again outshot Bismarck in the period, this time 15-11, and took the one-goal cushion heading into the final break.
But the Bobcats wouldn’t go away, getting their second power play goal of the game when Patrick Johnson grabbed a rebound at the 5:23 mark in the third. With the game tied at three apiece, each team killed off another penalty in the final stanza, and the Wings’ defense stood tall to keep the score tied in the final minutes of regulation.
After a quick break, three-on-three overtime hockey started and both teams managed to have possession, but the Bobcats didn’t get a shot off a Pichora — however, the Wings’ second shot on Lipskis was the game-winner. Bismarck skated into the Wings’ zone and nearly set up a good scoring chance before Dylan Wegner stepped in to break up the play. Wegner fed the puck to Carlstrom, who led a 2-on-1 attack into the Bobcat’s zone before sending the perfect pass through the crease to Gravink, who came flying in to put the puck into the open back door. Gravink got his fourth goal on the season, while Carlstrom notched his second assist of the game, eleventh overall, and Wegner picked up his eighth.
Aberdeen went 2-4 on the power play while the Bobcats managed 2-5 with the man-advantage. Pichora denied 31 shots for his fifth win of the season, holding a 2.84 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
With the NAHL’s trade deadline approaching, teams across the league are moving players around. And with two new faces getting onto the score sheet in Friday’s matchup, Langer was optimistic about the late-season additions.
“The players we brought in are high-IQ players that fit right in,” he said. “Both factored into our scoring.”
Bismarck Bobcats 10-4
If ‘puck luck’ was a real thing, the Bismarck Bobcats certainly had it on their side Saturday night as they took a 10-4 win over the Aberdeen Wings inside the VFW Sports Center.
Bismarck got out quickly with three goals in the game’s first seven minutes. Erik Atchison got the Bobcats on the board first at the 3:28 mark, Calvin Hanson doubled the lead at the 4:09 mark, and Hanson scored again at the 6:50 mark. Wings goaltender Geno Pichora was pulled from between the pipes and Cole Moore stepped in, and it seemed like the Wings were ready to mount a comeback.
That started when Devon Carlstrom fired from the blue line and Nikolai Tishkevich got the redirect for Aberdeen’s first goal of the game at the 11:59 mark. Tishkevich got his third goal on the weekend, 14th overall, while Carlstrom got his 12th assist and Patrick O’Connell racked up his 18th.
The Wings brought the score within one almost exactly a minute later when Michael Casey chased down a puck in the Bobcats’ zone and centered to Roope Tuomioksa, who fired into the back of the net at the 12:58 mark to bring the score within one. Tuomioksa, playing in just his second game, got his first goal as a Wing, while Casey notched his 16th assist on the year and Kyle Contessa picked up his 13th.
But the Bobcats responded on the rush at the 14:30 mark when Vertti Jantunen scored, giving his team the two-goal lead again. And in the period’s final minute, a bench minor led to a 5-on-3 attack for Bismarck — and Patrick Johnson scored a power play goal at the 19:45 mark to take a 5-2 lead after the first 20 minutes of play.
The Wings started the second period on the penalty kill but stood strong, even getting a couple good looks in the process. They went on the power play again shortly after, and Logan Gravink took a wrist-shot from the circle for a power play goal at the 3:38 mark. It was his second goal of the weekend, fifth overall on the season, while Luke Lindsay got his fifth assist and Landon Parker grabbed his 14th.
But Bismarck responded quickly when Jantunen got one back less than a minute later, getting the three-goal lead back at the 4:21 mark. And back-to-back Wings penalties in the period’s final minutes led to another 5-on-3 attack for Bismarck — and they took advantage when Adam Pietila scored, bringing the score to 7-3.
With Pichora back in net, the Wings had to once again start the following period on the penalty kill, but this time Bismarck succeeded with the man-advantage when Michael Neumeier scored just 28 seconds into the period. Evan Hunter got a goal at the 10:41 mark and Pietila scored again at the 17:21 mark for the 10-3 lead.
Twenty-two seconds later, Owen Benoit took a cross-ice pass and fired from the circle for the Wings’ fourth goal of the game at the 17:43 mark. It was Benoit’s first goal wearing the Wings’ sweater, while Dylan Wegner got his ninth assist and Luke Backel picked up his sixth.
Overall, the Bobcats outshot the Wings 34-28, going 3-7 on the power play, while the Wings went 1-5.
The Wings (19-14-1-2) and the Bobcats (15-16-3-2) have now played three consecutive games, but they’re not done yet — Aberdeen will host the Bobcats inside the Odde Ice Center to close out the month on Jan. 27-28. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the puck drops at 7:15 p.m. Fans can purchase tickets ahead of the weekend 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.