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PHOTO: Jasper Weatherby (14) with 2 goals and 2 assists, and Lucas Sowder (11) with a goal and 2 assists helped power the Wild over the Trail Smoke Eaters in a 6-1 series clinching win on Friday.
CREDIT: Russ Alman / Digital Media Northwest

by Arch Ecker

The Wenatchee Wild have captured the BCHL’s Interior Conference Championship following Friday’s 6-1 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters in front of 3,000 fans at Town Toyota Center, and will face the Prince George Spruce Kings for the Fred Page Cup beginning Friday April 13.

From the outset it was clear that Wenatchee showed up ready to play. The first period was scoreless but the Wild outshot the Smoke Eaters 14-3 and controlled the majority of the action. In the middle frame, the Wild offense kicked into gear. Jasper Weatherby started the scoring with a power play goal at 2:25, and at 4:21 Lucas Sowder roofed a backhander following a forced turnover for a 2-0 Wild lead. Trail answered when a flubbed clearing attempt led to Blaine Caton firing a shot from the left circle up high at 5:30 to cut Wenatchee’s lead in half, but the Wild poured in two more to begin to pull away. At 9:19 AJ Vanderbeck entered the Smokies zone on the right wall, and spotted Cooper Zech driving up the middle, snapping a sharp pass across that Zech wired past Adam Marcoux for a 3-1 lead, and late in the period, Zech laced a stretch pass to the far blue line for Weatherby who gathered control of the puck and ripped it home for a 4-1 edge that stood following 40 minutes of play. In the final frame, Weatherby saucered a pass to a streaking AJ Vanderbeck on the right wing who drilled the high shot over Marcoux’s glove at 5:41. Weatherby and Vanderbeck teamed up again for a chance that was tipped in by August Von Ungern-Sternberg for the final 6-1 margin. Austin Park stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced to earn the win, clinching the Division and Conference Championship.

Up next is the BCHL’s top prize, the Fred Page Cup. The Wild will face the Coastal Conference Champion Prince George Spruce Kings in a best-of-seven series that begins Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14 at Town Toyota Center. Wenatchee owns home ice advantage by virtue of having a better regular season record. Tickets are $10 for all seats in the bowl, and go on sale at 9:00 am Monday morning. Call 509-888-7825 to secure your seats.