ABERDEEN, S.D. (Hub City Radio) – The Aberdeen Wings and the Minot Minotauros clash again this weekend, this time shifting venues to the Odde Ice Center in the Hub City. This weekend’s set of match-ups for the Wings will be the 5th and 6th games played against Minot in the past month, so the two teams are extremely familiar with each other heading into this weekend’s contests.
Minot started out the month of November by coming down to Aberdeen and sweeping the Wings on the road. The Minotauros won 4-2 on Friday, November 3rd and completed the sweep the next night by a score of 2-1. Last weekend, the Wings earned a split on the road up in Minot falling to the Minotauros on Friday night 4-2. Aberdeen would shut down Minot’s offense though on Saturday night with an extraordinary performance from goalie Croix Kochendorfer, making 39 saves on 40 shots faced, to earn the 4-1 victory and a much needed 2 points in the standings. The win was also the 700th in the coaching career of Wings Head Coach & General Manager Scott Langer.
The Wings currently have a 2-3-1 record against the Minotauros so far this season, and in terms of goals scored, the contests have been dead even with both teams finding the back of the net 14 times a piece during the 6 games already played between the two clubs. However, the shot totals tell a much different story as Minot has heavily out-shot Aberdeen during this season’s match-ups by a 233-123 margin, and have controlled the puck possession battle against the Wings.
Minot comes into this weekend sitting on top of the Central Division with 33 points and a 16-5-1 record. Aberdeen stands in 5th place with 21 points and a 9-12-3 record, which makes this weekend even more important for the Wings to earn some valuable points in the Central Division standings, but it will certainly be a challenge as the Wings only have two home wins during the season so far while the Minotauros are 6-3-0 on the road. For Minot, two players to watch out for this weekend are forwards Jack O’Hanisain and Joel Lehtinen. O’Hanisain leads the Minotauros in goals with 11 and points with 20 while Lehtinen leads the team in assists with 13. For Aberdeen, two players to watch for in this series are forwards Riley Sharun and Leonid Bulgakov. The captain of the Wings, Riley Sharun, leads the team in assists with 17 and points with 22 while Leonid Bulgakov leads the team in goals with 10.
The big keys to this weekend’s series are winning the special teams and puck possession battles. Both team’s power play’s are currently struggling with Minot sitting at 16.51% while Aberdeen isn’t fairing much better at 17.12%, but on the flip side, Minot’s penalty kill is second best in the league at 89.16% while Aberdeen is 14th at 82.86%. The biggest challenge for the Wings will be to stay discipline and out of the penalty box as Aberdeen is 9th in the league for the amount of times being shorthanded with 105 while Minot is one of the more disciplined teams in the league having only been shorthanded 83 times this season.
Come on down to the Odde Ice Center to catch some NAHL junior hockey as the Aberdeen Wings take on the Minot Minotauros this Friday and Saturday night. Tickets are on sale now at any of the 4 C-Express locations in Aberdeen or at Tickets.AberdeenWings.com. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the puck drops at 7:15 p.m both nights.