PHOTO: Brandon Koch (3) and Marko Reifenberger (16) help clear out traffic in front of goalie Austin Park during Wednesday action in Penticton. The Wild won, 3-1 to close out the regular season.
CREDIT: Cherie Morgan Photography
The first team in the BCHL to complete their season ending 58th game is the Wenatchee Wild, and they closed out the regular season by stringing three wins together, with the latest being a 3-1 victory over the Penticton Vees on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
For Penticton, the game carried much more weight than it did for the Wild. Wenatchee was locked into the #3 seed, with no chance of moving up or down. Penticton is tied with Merritt at 75 pts., and Wednesday was a game “in-hand” for the Vees to regain sole possession of first place. After a scoreless first period which featured quality chances and stellar goaltending at both ends of the ice, it was Wenatchee who broke through to open the scoring at 8:41 of the second when Brian Adams ripped a high blocker side laser as the trailer on an odd-man rush, set up by Lucas Sowder. Adams would pay it forward at 11:52 when he delivered a similar to pass to Chad Sasaki that found net for a 2-0 Wild advantage.
Wenatchee had stayed out of the penalty box all night but in the opening minute of the third Blake Bargar was whistled for slashing, and Penticton cashed in nearly immediately as Ryan Sandelin tipped a David Silye shot into the top corner to cut the lead in half at 2-1. It was the Vees’ first power play goal against the Wild in 14 tries this season. More goaltending theatrics at both ends highlighted the final frame, and Josh Arnold cemented the win with an empty net goal in the final minute as the Wild posted a 3-1 final. Austin Park stopped 24 of 25 shots for the win. Wenatchee claims the season series with a 4-1-1 record against the Vees.
Wenatchee (32-20-2-4) awaits the final seeding of the Interior Division to determine their first round playoff opponent. As the #3 seed, they will face the team that finishes sixth, and the Wild will have home-ice advantage in the best of seven series. Playoff games will be available for video streaming on HockeyTV, and will be broadcast live both locally and via internet stream on “NewsRadio 560 KPQ”, with the Pregame Shows starting 15 minutes prior to faceoff.
The Wild will open the first round of the BCHL Playoffs on home ice on the first weekend of March. Dates and times and opponent are yet to be finalized, but the seeding will be finalized by this Saturday at the latest. Ticket packages are available now at the Wild office.