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Wings fall to St. Cloud in triple overtime

Ronan Walsh, of the Aberdeen Wings, right, moves with the puck as Blake Mesenburg, of the St. Cloud Norsement, left, moves in on defense during the first period of Friday night’s NAHL Playoff game at the Odde Ice Center. In the back ground for the Wings is Kevin Mackay. Photo by John Davis taken 5/13/2022

It took more than 115 minutes of riveting action on the ice, but St. Cloud regained its home-ice advantage.

The Norsemen outlasted the Aberdeen Wings 3-2 in triple overtime Friday night in a game that lasted nearly five hours at the Odde Ice Center during the NAHL Central Division championship series. St. Cloud now leads the series 2-1 after the Wings had gained a split in Minnesota last weekend. The Norsemen will have two chances to clinch the series, including home ice if needed in a fifth game.

While the Wings appeared to have some momentum in the earlier overtimes, the visitors dominated play in the final OT. The Norseman peppered the Aberdeen goal with 17 shots in the third overtime before finally putting one in the back of the net on their 70th shot of the night at the 14:32 mark.

“They found some energy there. We had better legs through the second overtime, I thought,” said Wings coach Steve Jennings. “I thought we handled it pretty well through the first overtime. We had probably six grade A chances that we didn’t solve, and they got one.”

Aberdeen goalie Anton Castro had a monster game, stopping 57 shots before he had to be helped off the ice with an apparent injury early in the third overtime.

St. Cloud took advantage of that opportunity and soon sent a barrage of attempts on Wings replacement goalie Greg Orosz.

Jennings noted that both teams had numerous chances before the Norsemen finally connected.

“That’s the challenge of playing a long overtime game is, there is an ebb and flow in there,” Jennings said. “I thought we put Greg in there and I thought they did a good job of finding extra energy, amping up when they saw the goalie change happen. I thought Greg did a good job of standing tall.”

Orosz stopped 10 of the shots he faced, but was under constant pressure as the Wings were unable to clear the puck.

St. Cloud outshot the Wings 70-46 throughout the night.

Aberdeen never led in the contest, twice wiping out one-goal deficits.

Jacob Bosse scored late in the first period to knot the score at 1-1. The Norsemen retook the lead on a short-handed goal in the second period before Will Gilson tied the game just 40 seconds later.

Owen DuBois, of the Aberdeen Wings (15) celebrates with teammate Jacob Bosse, right, after Bosse scored a first period goal during Friday night’s NAHL playoff game against the St. Cloud Norsemen at the Odde Ice Center. Bosse’s goal tied the game at 1-1. Photo by John Davis taken 5/13/2022

After that, it was a defensive battle for more than three periods, two of them in overtime. In the final period of regulation, St. Cloud managed just five shots on goal while the Wings had just one.

The offense picked up during the extra periods. Aberdeen’s best chance game in the first OT when a shot caromed off the post.

When asked what he told his players following the heartbreaking setback, Jennings said, “I think this is a game you can’t really linger on and beat yourself up over. It’s a challenge when you get into a triple overtime game like this. It’s a bad bounce or a missed call where somebody gets picked off and whatever. It just is what it is.”

As a result, the Wings will now have their backs against the wall, needing a win in game four this evening to continue their season. Puck drop is set for 7:15 p.m. at the Odde.

“The people who showed up tonight got an absolute show, which is really good,” Jennings said. “I think (Saturday) will be another one. We just have to get after it.”

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