The Aberdeen Wings are flying high with 15 straight North American Hockey League victories, and Friday night they showed why.
Aberdeen tallied three goals in the second and third periods to rout Bismarck 7-1 in Central Division action at the VFW Sports Center.
The two teams square off again tonight at 7:15.
Aberdeen made its move in the second period, opening a 4-0 lead on goals by Brad Belisle, Riley Murphy and Joey Strada before Bismarck’s Alex Pollock countered in the final minute.
Period three belonged to the visitors, who put topping on the win with three goals, two courtesy of the power play. John Sladic punched in the first two and Murphy tallied the final marker of the evening, also on the power play.
Aberdeen opened the scoring early, Thomas Rocco notching a goal when he was left unattended in the slot. He took a pass from Strada on the right wing and ripped a high shot over the shoulder of Bobcats goalie Atticus Kelly,
There would have been more offensive excitement in the opening session but for the work of Kelly and Aberdeen’s Matt Vernon in the nets.
With Bismarck skating shorthanded, Kirklan Irey got loose on a breakaway, only to be denied by Vernon on a low short-range shot at the right post with 2:09 remaining in the period.
In the waning seconds, Strada got inside the Bobcat defenders for a low point-blank shot that Kelly turned away.
The quick-skating Wings built a 13-6 advantage in shots on net in the opening 20 minutes and finished with a 32-27 game advantage.
Strada, in his third year with the Wings and one remaining, said high-scoring games are not rare for Aberdeen, now 28-5-2 on the season.
“We’ve done it a few times this year. We put up 12 one time, and we’ve put nine up,” he said. “We have a good group of guys here. There’s so much potential.”
The Wings might well be likened to a fast-break basketball team. Once the puck changes hands, it’s go time, quickly and aggressively.
“That’s part our our identity,” Strada said. “We like to do that. The reason we’re winning games right now is transition.”
Going into Friday’s clash, he teams had split six games with the Wings getting an extra point for an overtime loss. Strada said playing the Bobcats is never easy, Friday’s score notwithstanding.
“They play hard and they play heavy,” he observed. “They’re a good team. … We’ve got to play hard when we play them. They show up every night.”
With all the offensive pyrotechnics, Wings coach Scott Langer didn’t want his team’s defense overlooked.
“It’s very tough to keep a team with (Bismarck’s) amount of skill to one goal,” he noted.
With the setback, Bismarck dipped to 19-15-1. Aberdeen has a 4-3 edge in the season series.