PHOTO: Matt Baker celebrates his series clinching, game winning goal on Sunday night.
CREDIT: Russ Alman, Digital Media Northwest
by Arch Ecker
The Wenatchee Wild will move on to face the Chilliwack Chiefs in the Mainland Division Final, but it took some last minute heroics to help the Wild defeat a scrappy, resilient Prince George team that had already twice staved off elimination twice in the series. Wenatchee won Game 6 by a score of 4-3, and takes the series four games to two.
Prince George got on the board early, as Ben Poisson slipped away from coverage and took a crisp pass from below the goal line and snapped it home at 2:15. Dakota Raabe tied the game when he fired a high blocker side shot into the net on a shorthanded two-on-one rush at 13:23 and the game was tied at 1-1 after 1. In the second period Kyle Johnson stuffed home a rebound after battling out of the right wing corner at 8:29 and Wenatchee trailed 2-1. The Wild appeared to tie the game on a Jimmy O’Brien goal but it was disallowed by an errant whistle that rendered the play dead. At 13:59 Chong Hyun Lee smacked home a rebound for a 3-1 lead that stood through two periods.
The comeback began in the third period. A Matt Baker power play goal with just under twelve minutes to go trimmed the lead to 3-2, as Baker hopped through three Spruce King defenders before burying his shot over the shoulder of goalie Tavin Grant, who stopped 29 shots on the night. With 1:20 left to play and an offensive zone draw looming, the Wild used their timeout, and summoned goalie Anthony Yamnitsky to the bench in favor of the extra attacker in an attempt to even the score and prevent having to go to a Game 7. The Wild won the draw and worked it around the zone, with an initial point shot being turned aside before being repossessed and worked back up top, where Chris Jones let loose with a shot that found the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3 with exactly 1:00 left to play in regulation.
In the playoffs, teams will play 20 minute periods until someone scores. But there would be no overtime on this night. With under a dozen seconds left, AJ Vanderbeck made a couple of nifty moves to create space and then fired his shot on net from the right circle, where the rebound was powered home by Matt Baker with 6.5 seconds left on the clock to put Wenatchee in position to close out the game, and the series. A key faceoff win by Brendan Harris helped cement the win. Anthony Yamnitsky stopped 15 of 18 shots for the win. He also made some key stops on breakaways and odd-man rushes.
Wenatchee moves on to face the Chilliwack Chiefs in the Mainland Division Finals, a rematch of last season’s Final. The schedule of the best-of-seven series will be released early this week. The Wild hold home ice advantage throughout the playoffs this year. All Wild games are aired live locally on Sunny FM 93.9 and available online with pay-per-view at HockeyTV.com. Away game watch parties take place at Riverside Pub. Tickets are on sale now at the Wild Office, the Town Toyota Center Box Office, and online at: tickets.wenatcheewildhockey.com.
Stay up to date with the team all year long on Facebook (facebook.com/wenatcheewildhockey), Twitter (@WenatcheeWild1), YouTube (Wen Wild), Snapchat (wwildhockey), Instagram (Wenatchee_wild), and on the team’s official website (wenatcheewildhockey.com). This Thursday at 8:00 pm, catch a tape delayed Wild Game of the Week on NCW Life Channel. Download our free “Wenatchee Wild” app for your iOS or Android device. Home game photos are online at: wildhockeyphotos.com.
Official scoresheet can be viewed here: http://bchl.ca/game-summary?game_id=7758