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PHOTO CREDIT: Russ Alman / Digital Media Northwest

by Arch Ecker

Two first period goals against put the Wild in a hole, but they turned up the heat on the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters on the way to collecting a 7-4 win on Wednesday night at Town Toyota Center. The win keeps the Wild in third place, now three points ahead of Trail and two points behind second-place Penticton.

The first Trail goal was punched in at the side of the net at 7:47 by Tyler Ghirardosi, and Ryan Murphy fired a power play goal home at 11:24 for a 2-0 Trail lead, bringing goalie Austin Park to the bench, and Seth Eisele on in relief. The Wild finished the first period with some pressure but couldn’t score. Early in the second, that would change as Nathan Iannone swatted home an airborne puck at 4:07, and then :09 seconds later, Daniel Chladek took a Jared Christy pass straight to the cage, tucking it neatly under the glove hand after a sweet deke to tie the game. Trail retook the lead on a Levi Glasman power play goal at 12:35 and the Wild trailed 3-2 after 2. Lucas Sowder scored :42 seconds into the third on a low hard shot from the left circle on the rush to tie it up during the “Minute to Win It” promotion, sending the fans into a frenzy, which escalated even further when AJ Vanderbeck ripped a blast high on the blocker side for a 4-3 Wild lead at 4:47 of the third. The goal had yet to be announced on the PA before Trail tied it right back up, with Levi Glasman tipping a shot past the toe of Eisele on the stick side, prompting the second Wild goalie change of the night. At 9:25, the eventual game winner came when Josh Arnold stole the puck away on the forecheck and jammed it in on the doorstep for a 5-4 Wild edge. Slava Demin added a power play goal on a heavy wrister from the blue line at 12:19, and Murphy Stratton capped it off with an empty net goal with 1:48 to go to make It 7-4. Cooper Zech had three assists, and Stratton finished with a goal and three assists. Park and Eisele combined to stop 21 of 25 shots, with Park getting the win, his thirteenth of the year.

The Wild are 9-1-2 in their last 12 games, and sit in third place in the Interior Division. First place Vernon lost to last place Coquitlam at home in overtime but still earned a point, and Penticton won their eleventh straight, putting them two points behind Vernon, and two points ahead of the Wild.

Wenatchee (20-8-2-1) heads back out on the road to face Merritt (12-13-2-1) on Friday and Prince George (16-10-2-3) on Saturday, then return home for two games against Salmon Arm before the Christmas break. Group ticket packages for all games are on sale now at the Wild office by calling 509-888-7825.