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WILD CLINCH SEMI-FINAL BERTH WITH SHOOTOUT WIN

PHOTO: Murphy Stratton (6) battles with Devon Daniels of the Ottawa Jr. Senators in Royal Bank Cup action on Tuesday afternoon. Wenatchee won, 3-2 in a shootout. CREDIT: @HC_RBCCup Twitter

by Arch Ecker

The Wenatchee Wild continued their hot streak at the Royal Bank Cup Tournament on Tuesday afternoon when they posted their third consecutive tournament victory, a 3-2 shootout win over the Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL). The win earns them a spot in Saturday’s semi-final round with the actual seed still to be determined.

For the third game in a row, Wenatchee surrendered the first goal of the game. With Jacob Modry in the penalty box, the Jr. Senators needed just :11 seconds to find the back of the net as Michael Thomas floated a shot from the blue line that deflected over the shoulder of Austin Park at 9:57 to put Ottawa on top 1-0. The Wild answered with a power play goal of their own to tie as Matt Dorsey tucked in a shot from the slot, set up neatly by AJ Vanderbeck from the left wall at 14:56. As the period entered the final minute, Wenatchee struck again on the rush as August Von Ungern-Sternberg slid a pass from the left circle to Jasper Weatherby who drilled it upstairs for a 2-1 Wild lead after 20 minutes.

The only goal of the second period was collected by Ottawa as Ethan Manderville swept home a loose rebound to tie the game at the 8:24 mark. Both sides had some quality opportunities to break the tie but at the end of regulation, the score remained tied 2-2, sending the contest into overtime. The prescribed ten minute overtime yielded no goals and for the first time at the 2018 Royal Bank Cup, a game would be decided by a shootout.

The Wild hadn’t won a shootout since Feb. 14, 2015 when they defeated the Topeka RoadRunners 4-3 at Town Toyota Center. Then again, the BCHL doesn’t use shootouts to break ties, so the Wild haven’t had the opportunity for the last three seasons. With the tournament calling for a best-of-three shootout to break ties, the Wild as the designated home team elected to shoot first. Sam Morton, AJ Vanderbeck, and Jasper Weatherby all came up empty, but goalie Austin Park also denied all three Ottawa shooters moving the shootout itself into sudden death. Wenatchee’s fourth shooter, Cooper Zech lifted his shot high on the blocker side for the 1-0 advantage but Gabriel Morin answered with a goal off Park’s arm to extend the shootout to the fifth round. Matt Dorsey snapped a low, hard shot into the net and when Austin Park denied a Finn Evans try, the Wild collected the win and two more points toward round robin seeding.

The Wild’s Royal Bank Cup round robin schedule concludes on Thursday at 2pm against the winner of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, the Wellington Dukes (OJHL). Semi-Final pairings and game times will be determined following the conclusion of play on Thursday night.