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PHOTO: Matt Gosiweski (at right) celebrates his first period power play goal Saturday night in Penticton. The Wild went on to win 4-3 and move ahead of Penticton into first place.
CREDIT: HockeyTV screenshot

The BCHL’s Interior Division is a hotly contested one, with the top three teams separated by a single point heading into Saturday game action. The same is true at the end of the day’s contests, with Wenatchee sitting atop the pile with 44 points following their 4-3 win at Penticton on Saturday night.

The Merritt Centennials won their game 5-1 over Nanaimo to keep pace with 44 points, but the Wild have a game in hand, having played one fewer. Penticton slides to third place with 43 points.

It was Teddy Bear Toss Night in Penticton but it was the visiting Wild who opened the night with three straight goals in the opening ten minutes. The first was a putback of a rebound, scored by Blake Bargar at 3:10, following a PJ Fletcher attempt. Matt Gosiewski scored his third goal of the weekend when he ripped a power play shot over the glove side shoulder of Jack LaFontaine at 8:47 as he continued to torch his former team. Defenseman Chad Sasaki netted a power play tally two minutes later and the Wild owned a 3-0 edge. The patiently waiting teddy bears and stuffed animals took flight at 18:35 of the first period as Eric Linell was able to tuck a shot through the pads of Cal Sandquist and the Wild lead was 3-1 after 1.

Penticton scored the only goal of the middle frame when Ryan Sandelin redirected a James Miller shot from the right point right off a faceoff to pull the Vees within a goal, and it remained 3-2 until 11:23 of the third when Sandelin struck again, this time driving up the left wing and beating Sandquist with a high, hard blocker side wrister to tie the game at 3 apiece. The game winning goal was scored when defenseman Brandon Koch threw a shot on net from the left point that was deflected by the stick of Vees defenseman Kenny Johnson, arcing it such that it fluttered off the goalie’s shoulder and into the net, seemingly in slow motion. For the third time in as many games, Penticton pulled their goaltender late for the extra attacker but to no avail, as Wenatchee held on for the 4-3 win, the weekend sweep, a season-high eighth win in a row, and a piece of first place in the Interior Division.

Wenatchee (21-10-2) returns home Friday night to face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (15-13-3) at Town Toyota Center for Teddy Bear Toss Night, presented by Fred Meyer at 7:05 pm. The game will be available for video streaming on HockeyTV, and will be broadcast live both locally and via internet stream on “NewsRadio 560 KPQ”, with the Pregame Show starting at 6:45 pm.