WENATCHEE, Wash. – Wenatchee Wild forward Cade Littler (East Wenatchee, Wash./Wenatchee Wild) got to hear his name called this past Thursday among the British Columbia Hockey League’s best with his selection to the BCHL’s All-Star game in January.
Saturday night, the Wild captain showed the fans at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook exactly why he was chosen.
Littler closed the night with a pair of third-period goals after a stellar defensive effort, and the Wild extended their first winning streak of the season, defeating the Cranbrook Bucks 5-2 for their fourth straight win.
The first Wenatchee power play wasn’t a successful one, but the Wild didn’t miss by much – at 4:58 of the first period, Michael Valdez (Denver, Colo./Springfield Jr. Blues) drove the puck down the right wing and scored his point-blank chance just six seconds after the end of a tripping call to Cameron Kungle.
Luke Weilandt (Northbrook, Ill./Green Bay Gamblers) scored the game’s niftiest goal at 12:04 of the period, spinning himself around in front of Bucks goaltender Nathan Airey before backhanding the puck to the back of the net for a 2-0 lead. Donovan Frias ended the period on a high note for the hosts, though, tipping a short-distance chance into the net past Andy Vlaha (Snohomish, Wash./Wenatchee Wild) with 2:12 to go and cutting the Wild lead to 2-1.
Jack Silich eliminated the lead just 42 seconds out of the intermission, dashing down the right wing and zipping a shot past Vlaha on his stick side. With 7:33 to go in the period, the Wild retook the lead when Micah Berger (Bethesda, Md./Sioux Falls Stampede) poised himself to take a wrist shot in front before walking the puck past Airey for the 3-2 advantage.
Rhys Bentham’s interference penalty at the 35-second mark of the third period opened the door for Littler to do some damage on the power play – his shot sneaked through the traffic in front of the net, doubling the lead at 1:21 of the period. With the teams playing 4-on-4, he added to his total by stealing a rinkwide pass in the Bucks’ defensive zone and tossing it into the empty net to seal the win.
Berger finished the night with a goal and an assist, matching the efforts from Frias and Silich. Vlaha made 24 saves to earn his third win of the season, while Airey took the loss behind a 31-save performance. Littler’s third-period goal was the only power play tally for either team in nine combined tries on the night, and he became the first Wild player to reach double-figures in goals for this season.
Weilandt’s goal extended an impressive individual effort, earning a point in his seventh consecutive game. His streak is Wenatchee’s longest of 2022, and sits just one game shy of the team’s high mark from the 2021-22 season.
The Wild moved to 7-10-0-1 on the season, while the Bucks slipped back to 11-7-1-0. The teams will meet again in Cranbrook a week from Wednesday, but Wenatchee first embarks on a three-game series against the Trail Smoke Eaters, starting with a road trip to Trail on Wednesday evening. The opening puck drop is slated for 7 p.m., with live coverage on Newsradio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV.
Wenatchee returns home for its Black Friday matchup against the Smoke Eaters, with the puck drop on November 25 scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Town Toyota Center. To purchase tickets to that game or any upcoming Wild home game, call 509-888-7825 or click here. Updated news and information on Wenatchee Wild hockey are always available at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com, and through the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Wenatchee 2 1 2 – 5
Cranbrook 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Wenatchee, Valdez 3 (Jones, Stefanek), 4:58. 2, Wenatchee, Weilandt 9 12:04. 3, Cranbrook, Frias 9 (Silich, Morrissey), 17:48. Penalties-Kungle Cra (tripping), 2:52; Stefanek Wen (too many men on the ice), 9:54; Fodchuk Cra (hooking), 18:37.
2nd Period-4, Cranbrook, Silich 14 (Frias, Henry), 0:42. 5, Wenatchee, Berger 4 (Bickler), 12:27. Penalties-Hejduk Wen (tripping), 17:33.
3rd Period-6, Wenatchee, Littler 9 (Hejduk, Berger), 1:21 (PP). 7, Wenatchee, Littler 10 17:29 (EN). Penalties-Bentham Cra (interference), 0:35; Gasparini Wen (interference), 2:41; Somoza Wen (tripping), 10:27; Marshall Wen (roughing), 17:18; Hjartarson Cra (holding the stick), 17:18.
Shots on Goal-Wenatchee 15-12-9-36. Cranbrook 7-8-11-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Wenatchee 1 / 4; Cranbrook 0 / 5.
Goalies-Wenatchee, Vlaha 3-5-0-1 (26 shots-24 saves). Cranbrook, Airey 8-5-1-0 (35 shots-31 saves).
Referees-Eric Ruschin (9), Matt Fox (49).
Linesmen-Nolan Varley (24), Jarrod Teindl.