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PHOTO: Austin Park (35) and Jacob Modry (26) and the rest of the Wild head home to Wenatchee for Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead.
CREDIT: Jim Bailey / Trail Times

After taking the first two games of the series on home ice, the Wenatchee Wild split Games 3 and 4 Cominco Arena in Trail, BC. On Wednesday night, facing elimination, the Trail Smoke Eaters built an early lead and went on to defeat Wenatchee 5-2 to force a Game 5 at Town Toyota Center Friday night. The Wild now lead 3-1 in the best-of-seven Interior Conference Final Series.

Trail got on the scoreboard early, just 1:09 into the game as a wide angled Trail shot was knocked back out front and punched home by Ryan Murphy. Andre Ghantous tapped in the rebound of his own shot at the post at 9:16 for a 2-0 lead, then snapped home a feed through the crease at 12:07 for his second of the night to put the Smoke Eaters ahead 3-0. The Wild began to rally in the middle frame, starting with a Zak Galambos blast from the left circle on the power play at 1:42, then pulled to within a goal as August Von Ungern-Sternberg buried a shorthanded breakaway at 6:25, his first goal of the playoffs to make it a 3-2 hockey game. It’s as close as the Wild would come, though. Trail’s Seth Barton got a shot through a screen that Austin Park got a piece of, but still found the back of the net and Trail once again led by two. Trail added a final mark from Levi Glasman at 7:12 of the third, as the Wild pushed but were unable to score again and the Smoke Eaters took the 5-2 win to avoid being swept in the series.

The Wild and Smoke Eaters meet again at Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee for Game 5 of the Interior Conference Final at 7:05 pm on Friday, April 6. Tickets are on sale now at the Wild office, Town Toyota Center Box Office, and online. If needed, Game 6 is back at Cominco Arena on Saturday night, and Game 7 would return to Wenatchee on Monday night. In the Coastal Conference Final, Prince George leads Powell River 3 games to 1, and Game 5 is Thursday night at Prince George.