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WENATCHEE, Wash. – With 20 minutes remaining in Saturday’s Wenatchee Wild contest at Town Toyota Center, it didn’t seem late-game heroics would even be necessary. The ending to the matchup between the Wild and the Cranbrook Bucks, though, ended up being one of the most dramatic in the team’s 15-year history. Cranbrook battled back from a three-goal deficit at the intermission, tying the game with 2:12 remaining, but the Wild prevailed 5-4 in a 13-round shootout and reset an 11-year-old record for the longest regular-season contest in team history.
The first period was an even battle between the teams, with the Bucks posting 11 shots to Wenatchee’s 10. However, Ean Somoza’s (Simi Valley, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) shot from the right point was the only marker in the opening 20 minutes, giving the Wild a 1-0 advantage less than six minutes into the contest and eight seconds into the game’s second power play following a too-many-men call against the Bucks.
The second period saw Lucas Marshall (Orange County, Calif./Anaheim Jr. Ducks 18U) come alive at the offensive end, snapping a left-point chance past Carter Capton just past the four-minute mark for a 2-0 advantage. Micah Berger (Bethesda, Md./Sioux Falls Stampede) would make it a 3-0 game on a transition goal from the right-wing faceoff circle at 8:16 of the period, but Cranbrook answered on a blue-line chance from Markus Yim just over two minutes later.
Marshall scored again with six minutes showing on the second-period clock, walking the puck to the left wing and sending it to the back half of the net to push the lead back out to three goals.
Cranbrook made its move in the third period, starting with Bryce Sookro’s transition goal 17 seconds out of the break. The Bucks halved the lead when Kellan Hjartarson deflected in a Willem Terwoord shot at the 6:56 mark of the third, and erased it entirely when Luke Pfoh sent a chance past Andy Vlaha (Snohomish, Wash./Wenatchee Wild) on a power play at 17:48 of the final period.
The Bucks got all three shots on the net in the overtime, but the teams both enjoyed success in the first and 12th rounds of the shootout. Jack Silich and Parker Murray (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) each scored in the opening round of the shootout, while Julian Frias and Mario Gasparini (Lakeville, Minn./Wenatchee Wild) each scored in the second-to-last round. Only David Hejduk’s (Parker, Colo./Wenatchee Wild) forehand goal on Wenatchee’s 13th-round shot would make the final difference in the game.
“It was a great crowd again for the guys,” said Wild director of scouting and assistant coach Leigh Mendelson. “We had a great first 32 or 34 minutes and dropped off at the end of the second, and Andy (Vlaha) showed up in the third to keep us in it, and won it for us in overtime and the shootout.”
One night after notching four assists against the Merritt Centennials, Berger closed the night with a goal and two assists, while Marshall, Somoza and Gasparini had two points apiece. Noah Quinn headlined the Cranbrook effort with three assists. Wenatchee enjoyed more success on the power play with a 2-for-5 mark, while the Bucks went 1-for-3.
The 13-round shootout broke a team record set on December 8, 2012, when the Wild went 11 rounds with the Jamestown Ironmen. The longest shootout during the team’s BCHL era prior to Saturday was a nine-round marathon against Trail on January 25, 2020 – shootouts have only been on the books in the BCHL since 2018, when the league adopted NHL-style overtime and shootout rules.
Vlaha earned his 15th win of the season, making 38 saves on 42 Cranbrook shots. Capton dropped to 10-5-0-1 with the loss, despite stopping 33 Wild shots.
The win pushes Wenatchee to 27-22-1-2 for the year, with the fourth- and seventh-place teams in the Interior Conference now separated by just a single point, while Cranbrook dropped to 35-13-1-3. The Trail Smoke Eaters come to Town Toyota Center next Friday and Saturday to close the regular season, with Friday’s game set to begin at 7:05 p.m. Live coverage is available on Newsradio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV.
Friday’s game is WAHA Night presented by Weinstein Beverage, as the Wild celebrate youth hockey in Wenatchee, including the team’s final specialty jersey auction of the season. To purchase tickets to that game or any upcoming home game, call 509-888-7825 or click here. 2023-24 season tickets are also on sale now, as are ticket packages for the 2023 Shaw BCHL Playoffs, presented locally by Windermere Real Estate. Updated news and information on Wild hockey are always available at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com and on the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Cranbrook 0 1 3 0 0 – 4
Wenatchee 1 3 0 0 0 – 5
1st Period-1, Wenatchee, Somoza 22 (Gasparini, Berger), 5:48 (PP). Penalties-Tremblay Cra (high-sticking), 3:28; Peluso Cra (bench minor), 5:40; Good Cra (tripping), 11:23; Hovsepyan Wen (bench minor), 13:10.
2nd Period-2, Wenatchee, Marshall 3 (Berger, Stefanek), 4:02. 3, Wenatchee, Berger 23 (Somoza, Gasparini), 8:16 (PP). 4, Cranbrook, Yim 1 (Morrissey, Quinn), 10:19. 5, Wenatchee, Marshall 4 (Ebbott, Jones), 14:00. Penalties-Morrissey Cra (holding), 7:31.
3rd Period-6, Cranbrook, Sookro 2 (Pfoh, Fodchuk), 0:17. 7, Cranbrook, Hjartarson 12 (Terwoord, Quinn), 6:56. 8, Cranbrook, Pfoh 8 (Hjartarson, Quinn), 17:48 (PP). Penalties-Fodchuk Cra (tripping), 7:30; Westen Wen (interference), 14:20; Marshall Wen (roughing), 16:39.
1st OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
2nd OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – Cranbrook 2 (Silich G, Peluso NG, Morrissey NG, Smith NG, Cotton NG, Quinn NG, Frias NG, Pfoh NG, Fodchuk NG, Tremblay NG, Hjartarson NG, Frias G, Sookro NG), Wenatchee 3 (Murray G, Stefanek NG, Somoza NG, Berger NG, Szydlowski NG, Littler NG, Weilandt NG, Hovsepyan NG, Marshall NG, Valdez NG, Jones NG, Gasparini G, Hejduk G).
Shots on Goal-Cranbrook 11-8-20-3-0-0-42. Wenatchee 10-17-10-0-0-1-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Cranbrook 1 / 3; Wenatchee 2 / 5.
Goalies-Cranbrook, Capton 10-5-0-1 (37 shots-33 saves). Wenatchee, Vlaha 15-13-0-1 (42 shots-38 saves).
Referees-Eric McLaughlin (115), Thomas Williams (125).
Linesmen-Chris Hastings (132), Jarrod Boman (104).