Wings & Bobcats Split Home & Home Weekend



Bismarck Bobcats 5-4

Aberdeen Wings

The Aberdeen Wings faced a really tough 2:37-long slump Friday night inside the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen, allowing four goals in that span. They clawed back, making a dash to rectify the deficit, but came up one goal short, skating to a 5-4 loss to the Bismarck Bobcats.

The Wings got on the board first at the 14:26 mark in the first period when Landry Schmuck grabbed a pass and fired from the middle of the circle for a power play goal. It was his fifth goal on the year, while Hugo Allais grabbed his fifth assist and Seamus Campbell picked up his seventh.

Ronan Walsh got the Wings on the board quickly in the middle stanza, skating down the ice and firing a rocket from the top of the circle and into the back of the net just 23 seconds into the period. This made the fifth straight game that Walsh has scored, racking up his seventh overall on the year. Cade Neilson tallied his division-leading 18th assist, while defenseman Will Gilson notched his fourth.

That’s when Bismarck went on a run that the Wings couldn’t recover from.

Quinn Rudrud scored at the 5:16 mark, putting his team back within one. He tied the game just 15 seconds later after quick movement following the face-off. Another 23 seconds later, Eddie Shepler gave the Bobcats their first lead of the game, and Paul Huglen increased the lead to two a minute-and-a-half later.

Needing to change things up and cause a spark, Jennings pulled goaltender Greg Orosz and placed Dominik Wasik between the pipes. But at the 12:15 mark in the second, Owen Michaels found an opening to give Bismarck the 5-2 lead. The Wings outshot the Bobcats in both periods, but Bismarck headed into the final intermission with the three-point cushion.

Jacob Bosse wasted no time getting the Wings back within striking distance, picking up a rebound in front of the crease less than a minute into the third period. It was his third goal of the year, while Gilson snagged his second assist of the game, fifth overall, and Kevin MacKay picked up his fourth.

The Wings struck again at the 3:50 mark in the third when Anthony Galante picked up a loose puck in the crease and backhanded it into the side of the net to bring Aberdeen back within one. It was his third goal as a Wing; Neilson grabbed his 19th overall — with 12 of those assists coming in the last seven consecutive games — and Walsh added his first apple to his name.

The Wings continued to apply the pressure in the final period, taking 16 shots while limiting the Bobcats to just six. But even after pulling Wasik from goal with less than a minute to play, they couldn’t find that one last goal and took the 5-4 loss.

Overall, Aberdeen outshot Bismarck 41-25, but Wings head coach Steve Jennings knows that’s not the number that matters on the scoreboard. “We’re getting shots from the perimeter, but not getting the secondary shots from the interior,” he said after the game. “I think we’re getting there. I think we need to keep getting those shots and getting to the middle of the ice.”

With late roster additions like Ronan Walsh adding to the mix of a younger team, Jennings said that he’s seeing the progress his team is making, but is also aware of needing to make some tweaks. “Ronan Walsh brings consistent energy, consistent performance, he’s a reliable scorer. You’re starting to see some more reliability coming out of the younger guys,” he said. “Anthony Galante, we brought in for just what he’s doing for us and he brings it every night, which is really good. Despite the result, we’re seeing movement. We just have to find that consistency.”

Wings captain Kyle Gaffney echoed his coach’s words. “Consistency right now is our biggest problem,” he said. “As a team, we are making steps and it’s definitely gotten a lot better since the start of the season.”

Nearing the one-third mark of the 2021-22 hockey season, the Wings are 9-9-0-1, sitting in fourth place in a tight Central Division. Gaffney said that his team needs to fix some stuff in the defensive zone to prevent them from relying on the goalies too much, which will also help with their consistency.

“We’ve got to play the full 60 minutes,” he added. “We can’t take any time off. It showed tonight — we were on them for a good 45 minutes of that game, and the other 15 cost us.”

Jennings said that he was happy with his special teams, who went 1-2 on the power play, while their league-leading penalty kill was a perfect 0-2. “When your special teams go like that, you’re generally in a position to win a hockey game,” he said. “Our third period was really strong; I didn’t like our start but we got through that first penalty kill and built some momentum and we finished the first period good. That middle chunk of the second period made life really hard.”

The Wings will travel to Bismarck to play the Bobcats for the fourth consecutive game. They’ve delivered the Bobcats two losses on their home ice inside the VFW Sports Center so far this season, and Jennings said he would like to finish out the series strong. “We can’t give up those opportunities we gave up. The mistakes we made tonight in the second period found their way to the back of the net quick,” he said. “That’s not always a typical night, but they did. Dom and Greg both are competing, we need strong goaltending to push us through and I think we’ll get to that point.”



Aberdeen Wings 5-3

Bismarck Bobcats

An early first period goal kicked things off for the Aberdeen Wings — and a three-goal third period sealed the deal as they found their footing and skated to a 5-3 win Saturday night against the Bismarck Bobcats inside the VFW Sports Center. That first goal came from Cade Neilson less than two minutes into the game when he picked off a pass and fired a slap shot past Bismarck goaltender Ben Behrens. The unassisted goal was his eighth on the year. The Wings picked up three penalties in the opening period, but killed off all three extra-man chances. They outshot Bismarck 8-7 in the opening period, and that extra shot turned out to be an important one as they headed into the first intermission leading 1-0.

The Bobcats killed off a penalty of their own in the second period, but Ronan Walsh broke through the Bismarck net once again at the 10:29 mark, grabbing a pass from Neilson in the circle and firing it into the side of the net, giving his team the 2-0 lead. Walsh’s goal streak continued to grow, nabbing his eighth goal in the last six consecutive games — Neilson grabbed his 20th assist on the play, while Jacob Bosse claimed his tenth. At the 16:36 mark in the second, Quinn Rudrud got Bismarck on the board, scoring his third goal of the weekend to bring his team back within one.

Heading into the third period with the 2-1 lead, Aberdeen quickly added to that total, starting early with a goal from Bosse just 58 seconds into the period, who skated down the middle of the ice to tap in a pass from Neilson. It was Bosse’s fourth goal on the year, while Neilson racked up his 21st apple and Hugo Allais notched his sixth.

Neilson and his line weren’t done yet — shortly after a huge save by Dominik Wasik and battling off a couple good Bismarck chances, Neilson skated down the ice and completed a perfect tic-tac-toe play at the 8:44 mark to put the Wings up 4-1. Neilson’s second goal of the game was his ninth overall, while Bosse added his eleventh assist and Kevin MacKay notched his fifth. Just under five minutes later, at the 13:36 mark, Chase Davis picked up the puck and fired from the below the circle to take a four-point lead. Davis got his third goal of the season, with Nate Mann picking up his seventh assist and Parks Wallace claiming his third. Bismarck was very quick to answer when Adam Pietila scored just 22 seconds later to put his team back within three. And at the 16:30 mark, Jake Mclean grabbed a shorthanded goal to put the score at 5-3. But the Wings packed in the defense, even staving off a six-on-four attack after a bench penalty and the Bobcats pulled Behrens from between the pipes.

Overall, the Wings outshot the Bobcats 27-24, going 0-3 on the power play but also killing off all four penalties and keeping their status as the league’s top penalty killing unit. Wasik denied 21 of 24 shots to claim his sixth win of the year.

After falling in a close match Friday, Wings head coach Steve Jennings was happy to see his team rebound and find a win on the road, stating that what they did Saturday night was what they needed to bounce back. “Starting on time, getting to the net and scoring first,” he said after the game. “Sticking with the game plan and not letting them take control.”

Several Wings players had a successful weekend: Bosse added two goals and two assists, Walsh added two goals and an assist, and Allais and MacKay contributed two assists of their own. But perhaps the star of the weekend was Neilson, who racked up two goals and four assists on the weekend and finishing with a +4. Saturday’s game marked his 14th assist in the last eight games. Jennings is proud of what he brings to this year’s squad. “Simply put: leadership,” he said of his assistant captain. “He competes and plays with heart all the time. He’s a performance leader and a difference maker.”

Jennings was also quick to credit Neilson’s line with contributing to the game’s success. “His line tonight was outstanding,” he said. “They’re definitely building great chemistry.”

The post Wings & Bobcats Split Home & Home Weekend appeared first on Hub City Radio.

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