PHOTO: The Wild came up short on Saturday night in Penticton. CREDIT: Hannah Winkler
Looking to conclude a three game / four day road trip on a positive note after losing the first two, the Wenatchee Wild took the ice with a purpose and dominated early before seeing Penticton pull away to a 5-2 win in front of 3,284 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
All three games of the trip saw the Wild face teams who were coming off recent losing streaks. Wednesday’s opponent, Trail had a 10 game stretch with a 1-8-1 record, but had just won two straight over West Kelowna. Friday’s opponent, Salmon Arm had lost eight straight but were coming off a 4-3 win at Vernon the week before. And the Penticton had gone five games without a win, their longest skid since 2004 before pulling out a double overtime win the night prior at home over Prince George.
Penticton spent most of the first period on their heels with the Wild bringing tremendous pressure, but the Vees, who didn’t get a single shot for over seven minutes to start, scored on their second shot, a flip from behind the Wild net that bounced off goalie Austin Park and into the net for a 1-0 lead, with the Wild holding a 14-2 shots on goal edge. Josh Arnold answered back to tie the game with a beautiful move off the left wing down low, cutting in front and burying the shot and the game was tied at 1. Penticton pulled ahead when Massimo Rizzo salvaged a broken rush with an improvised backhand pass to Taylor Ward who swatted it home and two minutes later, defenseman Jordan Henderson scored on a rush to make it 3-1 Vees, prompting a Wild goaltending change. The Vees caught a break later in the second when a bouncing puck went over the shoulder of Seth Eisele on a power play for a 4-1 score. AJ Vanderbeck stuffed home the rebound of a Cooper Zech shot with 1:42 left, but Penticton scored into the vacated Wild net for the 5-2 final.
Wenatchee (25-12-2-1) will have 9 of their next 10 games on home ice beginning next Friday and Saturday against West Kelowna. Saturday night is SuperHero Night with a jersey auction, costume contest, and free Batman masks. Group ticket packages for all games are on sale now at the Wild office by calling 509-888-7825.