(Photo credit: Russ Alman/WildHockeyPhotos.com)
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WENATCHEE, Wash. – The Wenatchee Wild point streak on home ice remains alive, but the Wild aren’t doing much celebrating heading into their final home game of 2022.
Wenatchee was able to build a pair of two-goal leads in Friday’s game at Town Toyota Center, but two late Prince George goals in the second period and a strike from Ben LeFranc 22 seconds into overtime sent the Spruce Kings past Wenatchee, 5-4, in front of more than 3,000 fans as the Wild returned to the ice after the Christmas break.
It took a little time for both teams to feel out the game and find their legs in the return from the holidays – Prince George fired off the first six shots of the game, and Wenatchee did not post a shot on goal in the first 11 minutes of the contest. When the Wild did finally get their first shots on the net, though, they posted them in bunches – Micah Berger’s (Bethesda, Md./Sioux Falls Stampede) third-chance wraparound goal 11:32 into the contest put the Wild in front first.
A new face gave the Wild their second goal of the night, with Caleb Elfering (Richland, Wash./Northstar Christian Academy 18U) scoring his first BCHL goal in his junior debut – Elfering bagged the last touch on Mario Gasparini’s (Lakeville, Minn./Wenatchee Wild) shot from the blue line with 3:01 left in the first, sending the hosts to the locker room up 2-0.
The teams found themselves on a 4-on-4 following a tripping penalty to Wenatchee’s David Hejduk (Parker, Colo./Wenatchee Wild) and a boarding major to Prince George’s Linden Makow at the 7:10 mark of the second period. At 8:30 of the period, Amran Bhabra walked the puck to the right-wing faceoff dot before rattling one inside the back post, making it a 2-1 game. Berger answered with a backdoor tap-in on the power play just 71 seconds later, pushing the lead back to two goals.
Prince George made its move late in the second period, as Jake Schneider got a piece of Charlie Banquier’s wrister from the blue line with 3:40 left to cut the lead to one. Ty Gagno’s wrister from the right-wing circle tied the game with 24.4 seconds left in the period.
Gabe Dombrowski (Great Falls, Va./Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks) gave the Wild the lead back on a nifty play at 6:21 of the third, playing the puck from below the goal line off of the backside of Spruce Kings goaltender Jordan Fairlie and into the net. However, a setup pass from Schneider below the goal line caught Killian McGregor-Bennett for a goal out front to tie it again with 9:05 left. The overtime period featured just one shot, a snap from LeFranc at the edge of the slot that gave the visitors the win on their only lead of the night.
Berger notched two goals and an assist, tying his career scoring high, while Gasparini, Ean Somoza (Simi Valley, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) and Cade Littler (East Wenatchee, Wash./Wenatchee Wild) posted a pair of assists apiece. Owen Millward (Davis, Calif./Janesville Jets) made 34 saves, taking the overtime loss and falling to 7-7-1-2 for the year. Schneider’s goal and two assists headlined the Prince George effort, with Fairlie making 22 saves on the way to his 15th win of the season.
The special-teams success continued for Wenatchee, going 1-for-3 on the man-advantage in the game and killing off all four Spruce Kings power plays. The overtime loss also ensured that the Wild picked up a point on home ice for the 10th straight game, the team’s longest such stretch since the 2017-18 season.
Prince George bumped its record to 16-11-1-1, while the Wild dropped to 12-15-1-2 ahead of a New Year’s Eve rematch on Saturday, presented by Anderton Family Dental. The opening puck drop at Town Toyota Center is slated for 5:05 p.m., with live coverage on Newsradio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV.
Saturday’s game features a reusable shopping bag giveaway for the first 1,000 fans in the door and a balloon drop for prizes at the first intermission. To purchase tickets to Saturday’s game or any upcoming home game, call 509-888-7825 or click here. Updated news and information on Wild hockey are always available at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com and on the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Prince George 0 3 1 1 – 5
Wenatchee 2 1 1 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Wenatchee, Berger 10 (Littler, Weilandt), 11:32. 2, Wenatchee, Elfering 1 (Gasparini, Berger), 16:59. Penalties-Gagno Pg (roughing, roughing), 20:00; Berger Wen (roughing), 20:00.
2nd Period-3, Prince George, Bhabra 2 (Fraser, Banquier), 8:30. 4, Wenatchee, Berger 11 (Littler, Somoza), 9:41 (PP). 5, Prince George, Schneider 10 (Banquier, Herrington), 16:20. 6, Prince George, Gagno 6 (Fraser, Greaves), 19:36. Penalties-Weilandt Wen (slashing), 0:50; Makow Pg (game misconduct, boarding), 7:10; Hejduk Wen (tripping), 7:10; Hejduk Wen (interference), 10:09.
3rd Period-7, Wenatchee, Dombrowski 10 (Somoza, Gasparini), 6:21. 8, Prince George, McGregor-Bennett 7 (Schneider), 10:55. Penalties-Elfering Wen (tripping), 2:56; Bohnet Wen (tripping), 11:36; Dombrowski Wen (high-sticking), 17:42.
1st OT Period-9, Prince George, LeFranc 2 (Gagno, Schneider), 0:22. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Prince George 9-15-14-1-39. Wenatchee 10-7-9-0-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Prince George 0 / 4; Wenatchee 1 / 3.
Goalies-Prince George, Fairlie 15-6-0-1 (26 shots-22 saves). Wenatchee, Millward 7-7-1-1 (39 shots-34 saves).
Referees-Kacey Walker (83), Wyman Flynn (51).
Linesmen-Chris Hastings (132), Thomas Williams (125).