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PHOTO: The Wild overcame a 3-0 deficit but fell in overtime, 4-3 as the Vipers take a 1-0 series lead. 
CREDIT: Russ Alman / Digital Media Northwest

The Wenatchee Wild opened the Interior Conference Finals on home ice against the Vernon Vipers on Saturday night, fell behind, rallied to tie, then lost the game on a fluke deflection in overtime as the Vipers grab a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-seven. Game 2 goes on Sunday night at Town Toyota Center before heading to Vernon for Games 3 and 4.

The opening salvo was fired by the Vipers, a clean blast from the midpoint by Michael Young that picked the high glove side corner at 10:33 of the first. Less than two minutes, a Wild pass intended for a forward who had instead headed for a line change was intercepted by Lane Zablocki who has just stepped onto the ice. In stride, he drove a shot from the right circle that eluded Austin Park for a 2-0 Viper lead, prompting a goaltending change with Cal Sandquist coming into the game. The Vipers added another tally when Josh Latta tapped home the tail end of a tic-tac-toe exchange initiated by Matt Kowalski in the left corner and fed across to Brendan Kim who touch-passed it back to Latta for the 3-0 lead. Shortly afterward, Wenatchee accelerated the pace, employing a frenetic forecheck that yielded quality chances, with first year forward PJ Fletcher lifting a loose puck over the blocker shoulder of Aidan Porter to get the Wild on the board at 5:45 of the second. Fletcher closed the gap to 3-2 when he knocked home the rebound of a Blake Bargar attempt at 8:54 and it was 3-2 after 2 periods. The Wild comeback was complete at 8:28 of the third. Nathan Iannone forced a neutral zone turnover that was promptly scooped up by Matt Gosiewski. As he drove to the net he drew three Vernon defenders with him, and muscled the puck across to his left into the slot where Brian Adams scored, popping it high on the blocker side.

The game winning goal came :26 seconds into overtime when a Michael Young shot from the right point hit a Wild stick and changed the direction to the left of Sandquist as he moved right, and the Vipers took Game 1, 4-3. Game 2 will be played Sunday evening at 7:05 at Town Toyota Center. Games 3 and 4 will be at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.

Wenatchee playoff games are 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. Our official away game watch parties are at Bob’s Burgers and Brew in East Wenatchee and Tap N Putt on Wenatchee Ave.