AUSTIN, Minn. – Despite owning a 2-0 lead after the first 40 minutes of play, the Austin Bruins surrendered five third-period goals to the Wings and dropped the first game of the two-game set with Aberdeen, 5-2.
For two teams that have played each other a total of four times coming into the night, the Bruins and Wings spent most of the first season trying to find an edge. Neither team truly owned the momentum in the opening twenty minutes, and outside of the Austin Bruins having a power-play and owning the lead in shots after the first period, the teams headed to the first intermission scoreless.
In the second, it was Austin who scored the game’s first goal, something they had only done in eight of their previous 27 games. Carson Riddle ripped a shot that missed the net by careened off the end-wall and landed on the stick of Reggie Millette who managed to slap the puck on the short-side, beating Aberdeen goalie Jake Sibell for the 1-0 Austin lead. For Millette, it was his third consecutive game with a goal, following his tallies against St. Cloud on Wednesday and Minnesota last Saturday. Out in front for the first time on the season against the Wings, the Bruins made sure to pad their lead and it didn’t take long. Less than a minute after Millette scored the opening goal, the Bruins tacked on their second of the night thanks to Peter Jacobs. With the Bruins taking the opening faceoff to begin a power-play, Jacobs somehow snapped a shot right when the puck hit the ice that caught Sibell off-guard and gave the Bruins the 2-0 lead. It was only two seconds into the Bruins’ power-play when they scored, their fourth tally with the extra-man against Aberdeen this season. Coming into the game, the Wings had only surrendered seven total power-play goals, three of them belonging to the Bruins, and now Austin had a 50% share of the goals scored while up a man against the second-best penalty-killing unit in the league. With the Bruins goals coming early in the second, there was plenty of time for more but Sibell stood strong in net for the Wings as did Tyler Shea on the other side and Austin lead the way after two periods, 2-0.
In the third, the wheels began to fall off the wagon for the black-and-gold. With 34 seconds of power-play hangover time on the clock, the Wings started the third period with control of the momentum. While they didn’t score on the power-play, they managed to beat Tyler Shea just a little over a minute after the Bruins returned to full-strength, making the game 2-1 with more than 18 minutes remaining in the final frame. The first goal, scored by Jake Goldowski, would be his first of three in the game as he becomes the second Wings forward to register a hattrick in the last three games, following the NAHL’s Central Division Player of the Week, Will Arquitt who scored three goals against Minot on Friday, February 19. Thomas Manty and Peyton Matsui would also score for the visiting Wings, increasing their lead to 5-2, with Manty’s goal being the fifth-straight game the Andover, MA, native logged a goal on the scoresheet. The Bruins tried to climb their way back into the fight, and even got plenty of chances on back-to-back power-plays late in the third, but couldn’t get it done, as they fell to the Wings, 5-2.
With the loss, the Bruins record fell to 9-15-2-2 on the season, while Aberdeen improved to 28-1-0-1 on the year. Tyler Shea was handed the defeat despite stopping 31 of 36 Wings shots on goal, while Jake Sibell earned his league-leading 24th victory by stopping 23 of 25 Bruins attempts. Carson Riddle led the Bruins in scoring by assisting on both Bruins’ goals, while Goldowski’s hattrick led the way for all scorers in the game with three points. The Bruins managed to go 1-for-4 on the power-play, a small victory against the best penalty-kill unit in the league, while their own kill stopped Aberdeen on 2-of-3 chances.
Up next, the two teams meet for a rematch at Riverside Arena on Saturday, February 27th at 7:05. Tickets for the game are on sale now by visiting www.austinbruins.com/single-game-tickets and the game will also be broadcast on HockeyTV and Power 96 beginning at 6:55.