Photo credit: AberdeenNews.com
ABERDEEN, SD – Three goals in a span of 3:17 of the second period turned a tight game into one that definitively belonged to the Bruins on Friday night at Odde Ice Center. In their first meeting since late October, the two top teams in the Central Division saw their gap narrow to just one point in the standings with a 4-1 Bruins win.
Aberdeen opened the scoring on the power play at 7:36 of the first with a quick passing play that culminated in Joey Strada’s finish at the left-wing circle. The Bruins would use their power play to even it up at 12:17 when Dan Petrick cashed a cross ice pace from Riley Doyon. The Wings heavily outshot the Bruins 16-9 in the opening period but Alex Schilling played well in between the Austin pipes to keep the Wings at one.
The second period was much tighter defensively and the score stayed 1-1 until a Valdemar Ahlberg slashing penalty just over midway through the frame. At the end of the penalty kill, Xander Lamppa carried the puck down the right wing, using Dante Zapata as a decoy and made a backhand move to beat netminder Matt Vernon. It was the league-leading tenth shorthanded goal allowed by Aberdeen this season. Just over two minutes later, the Bruins opened a two-goal lead when Alex Mella followed up his own scoring change and pushed a rebound through Vernon off a setup by Dante Sheriff and Adam Szubert, making his NAHL debut on the Bruins blue line. At 16:28 of the period, the Bruins special teams struck again, when Evan Cholak found a puck below the goal line and stuffed it into a vacated short-side for a 4-1 Bruins lead. On the goal, Travis Kothenbeutel assisted, becoming the first player in the NAHL this season to reach 50 points. Vernon was replaced by Gabe Vinal in the Wings net and the score was 4-1 at the end of two.
The Bruins locked it down defensively in the third, as Schilling completed an impressive game, stopping 33 of 34 for his 14th win. After allowing a goal on the first Aberdeen power play, the Bruins completed two efficient penalty kills to keep momentum on their side and cruise to the 4-1 victory. Now just one point behind the Wings for first, the Bruins have the opportunity to head home leading the division if they can complete the sweep on Saturday night. Game time is once again 7:15 and can be seen live on HockeyTV (AWAY Audio). Fans are encouraged to watch the game at The Bakery Lounge in downtown Austin – the official road headquarters of Bruins hockey.