PHOTO: The Wild celebrate Brian Williams’ third period goal on Sunday afternoon in Trail, BC.
CREDIT: Hannah Winkler
by Arch Ecker
In the final weeks of the regular season with a division title within reach, every point is crucial. For the Wenatchee Wild, they remain in control of their own destiny after topping the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-4 at Cominco Arena on Sunday afternoon with more than a busload of Wild fans in attendance.
Wenatchee’s longest scoring drought of the year came to an end as Jimmy O’Brien redirected a Slava Demin shot from the point at 7:54 to put the Wild up 1-0. Trail killed off a 5-on-3 Wenatchee power play that lasted 1:47, and as the Smoke Eaters pulled back to even strength, a blocked Wild shot bounced back through the neutral zone, springing Trail on a 2-on-1 break that Luke Santerno snapped upstairs, tying the game at 1 on Trail’s first official shot on goal. The Smoke Eaters scored on their second shot as well, a backhander through the five-hole by Mitch Barker at 13:10. Anthony Yamnitsky was brought into the game after the goal to replace Devin Cooley who was making his first start since Jan. 27. At 15:07, Dakota Raabe drove down the left wing, got a step around the Trail defense, cut across and tucked it home to tie the game at 2-2, assisted by Logan Milliken and Brendan Harris, and the game was tied at 2 at the end of the first period.
Wenatchee reclaimed the lead at 8:03 of the second period as Dakota Raabe tried to stuff the puck in from below the goal line, but it popped out to Brendan Harris who punched it up high on the blocker side for a 3-2 Wild lead. Trail tied it back up again as Ryan Moon finished off a Mitch Barker pass on a 2-on-1 rush and the game was still tied at 3 at the end of the second period. In the third, AJ Vanderbeck cashed in on a power play at 1:20, assisted by Troy Conzo and Slava Demin to make it 4-3, then on a beautiful passing play and zone entry, Brian Williams slipped home a nice shot, set up by two one-touch passes from Brendan Harris and Charlie Combs at 12:31 for a 5-3 advantage. With 3:40 left to play, an odd-man shorthanded rush for Trail was fired home by Luke Santerno, his second goal of the game, and the first shorthanded goal against allowed by Wenatchee all season. With a one goal deficit, the Smoke Eaters pulled the goalie and threw everything they had at Yamnitsky and the Wild, but Wenatchee held fast for the 5-4 victory, outshooting Trail 42-19. Wenatchee closes out their schedule against the Interior Division with a record of 10-3-0.
Wenatchee (40-9-4-0) wraps up their four game road swing Wednesday at Coquitlam (10-42-1-2). The Wild return home for their final two home games of the year on Friday and Saturday against third place Langley. All Wild games are aired live locally on Sunny FM 93.9 and available online with pay-per-view at HockeyTV.com. Friday is Jungle Book Night with a jersey auction and Saturday night the first 1,000 fans get a free “Wolfie” bobblehead.
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). Catch “Call of the Wild” every Thursday night at 8 pm, along with a tape delayed Wild Game of the Week on NCW Life Channel. Download our free “Wenatchee Wild” app for your iOS or Android device.
Official Game Sheet can be viewed here: http://bchl.ca/game-summary?game_id=7662