Sheriff, Mella, Zapata Lead Charge as Bruins Close Gap with Wings

AUSTIN, MN – Multiple points for each member of the Bruins starting forward line fueled the offense while Alex Schilling stopped 30 of 31 and the Bruins moved a step closer to first place with a 5-1 Friday home win over the Aberdeen Wings.

In the final minutes of the opening period, the Bruins used the power play to take a 1-0 lead. After several key saves by Wings netminder Gabe Vinal, a Jaden Shields point shot was guided into the net by Aberdeen defenseman Andrew Sinard, presumably trying to play the puck into the corner. Shields hit double figures with his tenth goal of the season, from Dante Sheriff and Alex Mella at 18:22 and the Bruins led 1-0 after one period.

After scoring late in the first, the Bruins struck again early in period two when Sheriff scored a highlight-reel goal 1:20 in, gathering the puck to Vinal’s left and stickhandling into the high-slot before spinning and ripping a shot to the roof of the net for a 2-0 Bruins lead.  Linemates Mella and Dante Zapata got the helpers. The goal seemed to be a wakeup call for the Wings, who got on the board at 5:42 when Nathan Burke spring John Sladic who moved in alone on Schilling and beat him with a backhand move. The remainder of the period was evenly matched and the score remained 2-1 at the horn.

It would be Sheriff coming up with the insurance tally at 10:48 of the third when he sneaked out from below the goal line and wrapped home his second goal of the game, again from Zapata and Mella. It was Sheriff’s third goal in the last two games. At 18:19, Travis Kothenbeutel made some history, out-hustling Sinard on a breakaway with the Wings net empty, and tapping home the 52nd goal of his career, breaking the Bruins all-time mark. The goal, assisted by Garrett Dahm, was also Kothenbeutel’s 20th of the season. For good measure, the Bruins added one more in the final minute when Seth Bacon scored in his second straight game (missing the previous four with injury). Justin Brandt fed Lane Krenzen at the point and his shot hit a body in front, setting up Bacon for a point-blank chance which he buried. It was the second consecutive 5-1 home win and the third game overall for the Bruins that has ended by that score.

Schilling earned his 16th win with his 30 saves while Vinal stopped 25/29 in the losing effort. The Bruins and Wings go at it again on Saturday night at Riverside Arena with a Bruins regulation win meaning they would overtake first place in the Central Division.