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PHOTO: Lucas Sowder (11) scored his fourth goal of the playoffs as the Wild eliminated the Merritt Centennials on Wednesday to advance to Round 2 of the BCHL Playoffs.
CREDIT: Hannah Winkler

The Wenatchee Wild finished off the opening round of the BCHL Fred Page Cup Interior Division Quarterfinal with a 4-1 road win at Merritt, advancing the Wild into the second round where they will face the Vernon Vipers.

Merritt outshot the Wild in the opening period 11-8, but neither side was able to score. Chase Bell gave the Centennials a 1-0 lead at 11:53 of the second and the floodgates opened. Bell’s goal, the putback of a wide angle rebound, spawned a response of four unanswered goals from Wenatchee to clinch the game, and the series. 45 seconds later, Sam Morton buried a power play goal to tie the game at 1, and 20 seconds later, Matt Dorsey put the Wild on top to stay as Josh Arnold tossed him a feed from behind the net for the one-timer and a 2-1 lead. The Wild power play converted a second time on the night as Jasper Weatherby drove home a left-wing feed from Sam Morton on the rush and Wenatchee took a 3-1 lead into the final frame. Lucas Sowder added an even strength tally for a 4-1 score that held up as the final. Austin Park stopped 32 shots to earn the victory.

As the #3 seed, Wenatchee will face the #2 seed Vernon Vipers in the second round of the playoffs beginning the weekend of March 16 per BCHL guidelines. A full schedule will be published once agreed upon between the teams and their venues. The Vipers advanced as a result of sweeping the #7 seed Salmon Arm Silverbacks in four games, capped with a 1-0 overtime win on Wednesday night. The other Interior Division series will pit the #1 seed Penticton Vees against the #4 seed Trail Smoke Eaters, both of whom also swept their first round opponents.