TRAIL, B.C. – With illnesses forcing a midweek shakeup in the Wenatchee Wild lineup, the Wild needed their standouts to lead the way against the Trail Smoke Eaters.
One constant in the scoring column – and one leader back from injuries – did just that Wednesday night.
The Wild ran their winning streak to five games with a 3-2 win over the Smoke Eaters, avenging a high-scoring loss at Cominco Arena in October and continuing their climb up the British Columbia Hockey League’s Interior Conference standings. The victory puts them within one point of Trail and the Vernon Vipers in the standings with a game in hand on Vernon and two on the Smoke Eaters.
They did it with some major roster movement – with five players out sick for the road trip, Wenatchee called up four players from its 18-and-under development team to round out the lineup. Two – Joe Marranzino (Denver, Colo./Wenatchee Wild 18U) and Brayden Pankey (Spokane, Wash./Wenatchee Wild 18U) – played, while goaltender Ayvin Eidsness (Firestone, Colo./Wenatchee Wild 18U) dressed as a backup to Andy Vlaha (Snohomish, Wash./Wenatchee Wild). Logan Nagle (Post Falls, Idaho/Wenatchee Wild 18U), with five BCHL games under his belt, was a game-time scratch. Gabe Dombrowski (Great Falls, Va./Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks) also made his return to the ice after missing two weeks with injuries.
Wenatchee burst out of the gate, posting 13 of the game’s 15 shots on goal. Three of them came in one volley, with Parker Murray (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) stuffing home the last of the bunch for a 1-0 Wild lead just 5:55 into the contest. However, the Smoke Eaters tied the game with 2:04 left in the period when Trey Fechko fired a shot on the run past Vlaha, hitting the net inside the back post.
Trail ran off eight of the final nine shots in the first period and added a 20-9 margin in the second, but it was the Wild who grabbed control of the game for good. With 6:46 left in the second, Dombrowski zipped a shot from the left wing to the top corner of the net, clipping the iron on its way past Teagan Kendrick to put the Wild in front to stay. With Brady Hunter serving a high-sticking minor, Ean Somoza (Simi Valley, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) put the game out of reach with a wrist shot from the top of the right-wing circle with 4:39 on the second-period clock.
Wenatchee would have to battle in the final seconds, though – with 3:51 to go, Hunter played a carom off the side of the goal, banging in a point-blank chance and shrinking the lead to 3-2. Kendrick left the Trail net for the game’s final 38 seconds, but the Smoke Eaters were not able to take advantage of a final, sustained push to tie the game.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our group right now,” said head coach Chris Clark. “Obviously, we speak of the guys who aren’t in the lineup, but we also had a lot of guys who gutted one out that weren’t feeling great either. To get the effort we got out of those guys tonight was awesome. I’m really proud of the group, and I owe a big thank you to Coach (Troy) Mick and his staff for getting his boys ready to play junior hockey, and they gave us some great shifts and did a great job tonight. This is not an easy building to have your first junior hockey game in, and those guys did an admirable job. It was a full team effort tonight, and those are the ones you enjoy the most.”
Somoza – Wenatchee’s leading scorer – had the only multi-point game of the night, earning a goal and an assist. Vlaha was recognized as the game’s first star, posting 40 saves on the way to his fourth win of the season. Wenatchee forward Luke Weilandt (Northbrook, Ill./Green Bay Gamblers) went without a point in the game, seeing a team-best seven-game point streak come to an end.
The Wild went 1-for-3 on the power play, earning a goal on the man-advantage for the fifth straight game and 11th in their last 13. The penalty-killing unit was perfect once again, going 4-for-4 against the Trail power play.
Wenatchee moved to 8-10-0-1 with the win, while the Smoke Eaters dropped to 8-11-1-1 ahead of a Black Friday rematch at Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee. The opening puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m., with live coverage on Newsradio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV.
To purchase advance tickets to the Wild’s Black Friday contest or any upcoming home game, call 509-888-7825 or click here. Updated news and information on Wenatchee Wild hockey are always available at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com or on the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Wenatchee 1 2 0 – 3
Trail 1 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Wenatchee, Murray 4 (McCloskey, Somoza), 5:55. 2, Trail, Fechko 7 (Marshall), 17:56. Penalties-Whipple Tra (tripping), 6:52; Marshall Wen (holding), 18:47.
2nd Period-3, Wenatchee, Dombrowski 6 (Berger, Valdez), 13:14. 4, Wenatchee, Somoza 8 (Kim, Hejduk), 15:21 (PP). Penalties-Valdez Wen (holding), 0:39; Horn Wen (kneeing), 8:36; Hunter Tra (high-sticking), 14:08.
3rd Period-5, Trail, Hunter 4 (Warrener, Parsons), 16:09. Penalties-Pankey Wen (hooking), 7:14; Marshall Tra (roughing), 17:13.
Shots on Goal-Wenatchee 14-9-10-33. Trail 10-20-12-42.
Power Play Opportunities-Wenatchee 1 / 3; Trail 0 / 4.
Goalies-Wenatchee, Vlaha 4-5-0-1 (42 shots-40 saves). Trail, Kendrick 4-7-1-1 (33 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Andre Gagnon (58), Grant Tyson (6).
Linesmen-George Hoggarth (90), Arnie Caplan.