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PHOTO: Lucas Sowder (11) scored twice as the Wild took a 2-0 series lead over Merritt with a 6-4 win in Game 2 on Saturday night at Town Toyota Center.
CREDIT: Russ Alman / Digital Media Northwest


by Arch Ecker

The Wenatchee Wild traded goals early with the Merritt Centennials before pulling away to an eventual 6-4 win on Saturday night at Town Toyota Center in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.

Merritt struck early, as Christian Sabin knocked a puck past Seth Eisele off the left circle faceoff just :33 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead. The Wild tied it on a Lucas Sowder power play goal as he sharply redirected the crossing feed from Jasper Weatherby out of the right corner. Nathan Iannone put Wenatchee up 2-1 at 4:49 of the first by driving home an against the grain drop pass from Sam Morton. Merritt was able to tie the game :31 second later with Matt Kopperud driving home a 2-on-1 feed that chased Seth Eisele just over 5 minutes into the game. Wenatchee retook the lead on a Chad Sasaki power play goal, a beautiful finish after a crossing pass from Murphy Stratton that was rocketed top shelf and Wenatchee led 3-2 after the first period.

The Wild started the second period down a man on a major power play, and then spent a full two minutes killing off a 5-on-3 Merritt power play, but escaped unscathed, growing their lead to 4-2 on a Jasper Weatherby power play goal from the high slot, set up by Sam Morton and Zak Galambos. Weatherby’s goal prompted a Merritt goalie change, as Jacob Berger came in to relieve Austin Roden. Before the period ended, Merritt would strike twice in a span of :55 seconds to tie the game. Matthieu Gosselin scored first hitting the high blocker side corner, then Zack Risteau scored in stride on a shot that Austin Park got a piece of and slowed but couldn’t stop. The game was tied 4-4 after 2 periods, with the Wild holding a 30-15 advantage in shots on goal.

Fittingly, the game winning goal for Wenatchee in Game 2 came on the power play, as Jasper Weatherby finished off two one-touch passes from Sam Morton and Cooper Zech, a snapshot that went off Berger’s left arm and in. In the final minute, with Merritt angling to pull their goalie for the extra skater, AJ Vanderbeck fired a shot that went off the stick of Lucas Sowder for a 6-4 lead that helped secure the Wild victory and send the series to Merritt with Wenatchee holding a 2 games to none advantage.

Games 3 and 4 of the series will be played Tuesday and Wednesday March 6 and 7 at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in Merritt, BC and will be aired live on Sunny FM 93.9, streamed via the TuneIn app and videocast using HockeyTV.com. Game time each night is scheduled for 7:00 with a pregame show beginning at 6:45 pm.