PHOTO: Sam Hesler (21) scored a power play goal in the first period on Thursday en route to a 7-1 Wenatchee victory over the Wellington Dukes. CREDIT: @HC_RBCCup Twitter
by Arch Ecker
The Wenatchee Wild wrapped up the round robin schedule at the Royal Bank Cup Tournament with a perfect 4-0-0 record after dispatching the Wellington Dukes (OJHL) in a 7-1 final on Thursday afternoon. As the top seed, the Wild will have last change and “home team” privileges for the remainder of the event.
After allowing the first goal of the game in each of the first three games, Wenatchee reversed the trend, striking first on Thursday when Zak Galambos wired a shot from the blue line through a screen just :24 into the game for a 1-0 lead. At 8:20, the Wild got a friendly bounce when a centering pass from August Von Ungern-Sternberg hit the Dukes defenseman in the leg and deflected into the net for a 2-0 lead. Wellington got a spark when Andrew Rinaldi slipped behind the Wild defense and took a stretch pass from deep in Dukes territory and scored with a low snapshot on a breakaway at 13:59. Wenatchee regained their two-goal lead with :03 seconds left in the period as Sam Hesler swept home a rebound on the backhand from the top of the crease and Wenatchee led 3-1 after 1, outshooting the Dukes by a margin of 14-5.
In the second period, the Wild kept up the pace and when Cooper Zech snapped a shot home from the left circle for a 4-1 lead at 8:30, Dukes goalie Jonah Capriotti was lifted for Tyler Richardson. Richardson was tested promptly and turned aside the first shot he faced, but a minute later, August Von Ungern-Sternberg took a pass from Jacob Modry and moved down the left wing, cut across the goal mouth and tucked a shot in off the low post at 9:49 to make it 5-1 Wild. At 12:03 Wenatchee padded the lead to 6-1 as Zak Galambos finished off a Josh Arnold pass on the rush and the Wild had the game in a stranglehold. In the final period, Wenatchee outshot Wellington 16-7 for a game total of 41-19, adding one more goal as Drake Usher planted a backhander in stride from the right wing at 19:06 for the final 7-1 score.
Seth Eisele stopped 18 of 19 shots to earn his second win of the tournament. With two assists, Jasper Weatherby finishes the round robin in a familiar spot, atop the Scoring Leaders list with 8 points. The Wild’s “Goals For” led the way with 16, as did the Goal Differential of +9.
In the night game, Chilliwack defeated Steinbach, eliminating them from further play. The semi-final pairings, as a result, will see the #1 seed Wild take on #4 Wellington in a 2pm Saturday rematch, and #2 Chilliwack will host the #3 seed Ottawa Jr. Senators. The two winners meet on Sunday at 4:00 pm in the Royal Bank Cup Championship Game.