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PHOTO: Zak Galambos (15) battles for the puck during Saturday’s game at Chilliwack.
CREDIT: RBC Cup Twitter (@HC_RBCCup)

by Arch Ecker

The Opening Ceremonies for the 2018 Royal Bank Cup featured the RCMP showing off the coveted trophy, paid tribute to the Humboldt Broncos, and brought all five teams together on the ice before the game got underway. In the end, Wenatchee fought off a 1-0 deficit to earn a 2-1 win in overtime Saturday night against the host Chilliwack Chiefs.

Wenatchee had three first period power plays, including a lengthy 5-on-3 power play but couldn’t solve Chief goalie Daniel Chenard. The Wild outshot Chilliwack 9-7 in a scoreless first. Once the game hit the midway point, the penalties all but ceased. At even strength, Chilliwack scored first when a Kyle Yewchuk shot angled wide of Austin Park’s net and back out to Jared Turcotte who snapped home a shot just ahead of the diving Wild goalie and the Chiefs led 1-0 at the end of the second. Midway through the third period, Wenatchee tied it up when AJ Vanderbeck drilled a shot from the right circle up high, assisted by Slava Demin and Jasper Weatherby. The Wild outshot the Chiefs 15-6 in the final period and were keeping good pressure in the offensive zone but with exactly two minutes left, got caught with too many men on the ice and Chilliwack finished the final 2:00 of play with a man advantage, but the Wild killed it off, sending the game into overtime.

The tournament format calls for one 10-minute overtime, followed by a shootout if necessary to determine a winner. However, just :18 seconds into the extra session, the Wild completed the comeback. Jasper Weatherby won the draw to Slava Demin, who withdrew into his own zone a bit before moving the puck to Lucas Sowder. Sowder advanced across the ice from one side to the other, then knifed his way through the neutral zone and past a defender where he snapped a low shot between the goalie’s pads for the 2-1 overtime game winner. The extra session win nets Wenatchee two points in the round robin, tying them with the Ottawa Jr. Senators who won earlier in the day, also in overtime. Austin Park picked up his 20th postseason win with 18 saves on the night.

The Royal Bank Cup Tournament continues Sunday afternoon for Wenatchee at 2:00 pm against the MJHL Turnbull Cup and ANAVET Cup Champion Steinbach Pistons. Tuesday at 2pm the Wild meet Ottawa Jr. Senators, then on Thursday at 2pm it’s the winner of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, the Wellington Dukes. Competition beyond that point is dependent upon round robin results. All Wild games are aired live on KCSY 93.9 Sunny FM.