WENATCHEE, Wash. – The Wenatchee Wild knew they’d be in a battle Saturday night at Town Toyota Center in their quest to land their first winning streak of the season. Turns out, there were a few battles on the ice toward the end of a game that saw the tempers flare in the final minutes.
In the end, Wenatchee forward and newly-signed Western Michigan commit Ean Somoza (Simi Valley, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) had a career night, notching five points in a 7-4 win over the West Kelowna Warriors. The win put the Wild past the second-place team in the British Columbia Hockey League’s Interior Conference standings in front of its largest crowd of the year, with nearly 3,200 fans filing through the doors on Military Appreciation Night.
The game got off to a hot start for the hosts, as David Hejduk (Parker, Colo./Wenatchee Wild) tossed a rebound chance past goaltender Nicholas Cristiano just 2:17 into the game for a 1-0 Wenatchee advantage. Noah Jones (Bridgewater, N.J./New Jersey Rockets 18U) doubled the lead on his first BCHL goal with 6:12 left in the period, tossing a shot on the net from the top of the right-wing circle.
West Kelowna made its move in the final minute of the opening period, and carried a nice momentum bump to the locker room. Looking ready to drag the puck to his backhand, Brennan Nelson instead went with the forehand tap-in on the post with 57 seconds remaining in the first, dropping the lead to 2-1 going to the locker room.
Ben MacDonald scored at 8:14 of the second period to tie the game, and Isaiah Norlin sneaked a pass to the weak side for Luke Devlin to put away with 7:23 left in the period, giving the Warriors the lead for the first time.
Somoza took off from there, starting with a power play marker with 3:39 remaining in the period. With just 13 seconds left on the man-advantage on a tripping call against Kailus Green, Somoza tipped a shot from Hejduk past Cristiano to wipe away the West Kelowna lead. With 1:25 showing on the second-period clock, Lukas McCloskey (Irvine, Calif./Anaheim Jr. Ducks 16U) found Somoza on the left-wing for a one-timer that came awkwardly off of his stick, knuckling over Cristiano’s left shoulder and into the corner of the net for a 4-3 lead.
Parker Murray (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) fired home a shot from the left-wing faceoff circle off of a backdoor pass from Somoza at 3:36 of the third, giving Wenatchee its second two-goal lead of the night. Instead of the Warriors making the next move, the hats flew for Somoza’s third goal at 6:20, a one-timer from a Luke Weilandt (Northbrook, Ill./Green Bay Gamblers) pass.
Hejduk added a second goal just 73 seconds later to stretch the lead to 7-3, but the Warriors had the final word when Green pounced on a rebound next to the post with 8:17 remaining.
The action turned from the scoreboard to several skirmishes in the final minutes – Michael Valdez (Denver, Colo./Springfield Jr. Blues) and Riley Sharun dropped the gloves and squared off 6:30 into the third period, but a check from behind made Matthew Fusco the first of eight players to be sent to the showers with misconduct penalties in the final 6:08 of the contest. Thanks to six misconduct penalties and a late injury to Green, West Kelowna would finish the night with just 13 available players, including backup goaltender Justin Katz.
Owen Millward (Davis, Calif./Janesville Jets) led the Wild to the weekend sweep thanks to 28 saves and his third win of the season, less than 24 hours after making 24 saves in a shutout win over the Victoria Grizzlies, moving into the team lead with his third win of the season. Cristiano made 27 saves on 34 Wenatchee shots, taking the loss and dropping to 1-2 for the year.
Both teams enjoyed a solid showing on the power play, with the Warriors finishing the night at 2-for-5 and the Wild sitting at 1-for-6. Wenatchee’s final showing on the power play was 4-for-10 on the weekend, with a power play goal in eight of their last 10 games.
Somoza had a historic night for Wenatchee, posting the team’s first five-point night since a five-assist game for Matt Gosiewski on December 22, 2018 against the Vernon Vipers. The weekend, meanwhile, is a new franchise record, with Somoza becoming the first Wild player ever to post nine points in a two-game span. Just like Friday’s game, five Wild players finished off the night with multi-point efforts, including Cade Littler (East Wenatchee, Wash./Wenatchee Wild) with three assists and Weilandt with two.
Wenatchee finishes a three-game homestand Wednesday night, the first of three straight midweek contests on the Wild schedule, as the Salmon Arm Silverbacks stop in at Town Toyota Center for Faith & Family Night. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 6:05 p.m., with live coverage on Newsradio 560 KPQ and streaming on BCHL TV.
To purchase advance tickets to Wednesday’s game or any upcoming Wenatchee home game, call 509-888-7825 or click here. Updated news and information on Wild hockey are always available at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
West Kelowna 1 2 1 – 4
Wenatchee 2 2 3 – 7
1st Period-1, Wenatchee, Hejduk 4 (Horn), 2:17. 2, Wenatchee, Jones 1 (Littler, Berger), 13:48. 3, West Kelowna, Nelson 6 (Laframboise), 19:03. Penalties-served by Marshall Wen (too many men on the ice), 9:09; Sharun Wk (slashing), 15:32.
2nd Period-4, West Kelowna, MacDonald 7 (Duclair), 8:14 (PP). 5, West Kelowna, Devlin 2 (Norlin), 12:37. 6, Wenatchee, Somoza 5 (Hejduk, Littler), 16:21 (PP). 7, Wenatchee, Somoza 6 (McCloskey, Murray), 18:35. Penalties-Littler Wen (tripping), 7:39; Laframboise Wk (kneeing), 8:59; Kim Wen (boarding), 11:08; Green Wk (roughing), 14:34.
3rd Period-8, Wenatchee, Murray 3 (Weilandt, Somoza), 3:36. 9, Wenatchee, Somoza 7 (Weilandt, Hejduk), 6:20. 10, Wenatchee, Hejduk 5 (Somoza, Littler), 7:33. 11, West Kelowna, Green 6 (Moriello), 11:43 (PP). Penalties-Sharun Wk (fighting, game misconduct), 6:30; Valdez Wen (fighting, game misconduct), 6:30; McCloskey Wen (tripping), 6:53; MacDonald Wk (high-sticking), 7:00; Jones Wen (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:55; Fusco Wk (checking from behind minor, game misconduct), 13:52; served by Hlusiak Wk (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:04; Norlin Wk (game misconduct), 14:04; Van Houtte-Cachero Wk (blow to the head match, game misconduct), 17:04; Picard Wen (high-sticking), 17:04; Picard Wen (game misconduct), 17:24; Salandra Wk (cross-checking), 18:26; Bickler Wen (roughing), 18:26; May Wk (misconduct), 18:46; Nelson Wk (misconduct), 18:46; Bohnet Wen (cross-checking, misconduct), 18:46; Jones Wen (misconduct), 18:46.
Shots on Goal-West Kelowna 11-10-11-32. Wenatchee 14-6-14-34.
Power Play Opportunities-West Kelowna 2 / 5; Wenatchee 1 / 6.
Goalies-West Kelowna, Cristiano 1-2-0-0 (34 shots-27 saves). Wenatchee, Millward 3-5-0-0 (32 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Jarrod Boman (104), Erik Freeman (105).
Linesmen-Kacey Walker (83), Adam McMasters (118).