Photo Credit: Russ Alman/WildHockeyPhotos.com
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MERRITT, British Columbia – The Wenatchee Wild didn’t get off to a satisfying start the last time they were in Merritt, but still scored a satisfying win over the Centennials two weeks ago. They left the ice more than satisfied with the result this time around. Lucas Marshall (Orange County, Calif./Anaheim Jr. Ducks 18U) scored his first junior goal to touch off an offensive onslaught, as the Wild set a new team record with a 13-0 win over the Centennials, breaking a six-year-old record along the way and seeing a top forward tie a team record of his own.
Marshall roped a shot past Conor Sullivan from the left point less than four minutes into the game to put the Wild in front. Ean Somoza (Simi Valley, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) tagged the Centennials for two more in quick fashion later in the period, scoring on a deflection of a Dane Westen (Castle Rock, Colo./Vernon Vipers) shot at the 5:09 mark of the period.
Somoza earned his second goal just 95 seconds later, turning a turnover into a shorthanded goal at 6:44 for a 3-0 Wenatchee lead. The Wild fired off the first 12 shots on goal in the game, and took a 3-0 lead to the locker room.
Parker Murray (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Wenatchee Wild) stuffed in a power play goal of his own 5:24 into the second, and a Cade Littler (East Wenatchee, Wash./Wenatchee Wild) wrist shot found the back of the net 53 seconds later for a 5-0 advantage. Alexios Georgaklis (San Diego, Calif./Mount St. Charles Academy) scored off of a faceoff at 9:44 of the period to make it a 6-0 game.
Somoza got his hat trick with a power play marker to the back post with 6:14 left in the second period, making it a 7-0 game. Wenatchee added a backdoor tap-in from Jason Stefanek (Yorba Linda, Calif./Mount St. Charles Academy) with 3:20 remaining, and Micah Berger (Bethesda, Md./Sioux Falls Stampede) scored with just 10 seconds showing on the clock for a nine-goal cushion at the intermission.
Stefanek and Berger traded goals again in the third, with Stefanek throwing one to the back post just 44 seconds out of the break to put the visitors into double-digit territory. Berger’s goal came just past the halfway mark of the third, just 18 seconds before a second-chance tally from Luke Weilandt (Northbrook, Ill./Green Bay Gamblers) with 9:21 left in the period. Garrett Szydlowski (Brighton, Mich./Wenatchee Wild) sneaked one into the top corner of the net with 35 seconds to go, capping a night for the history books.
Stefanek and Berger each finished the night with two goals and three assists, while Somoza and Littler posted four-point showings of their own. Somoza climbed past Dakota Raabe and Colin Burston into fifth on the team’s all-time scoring list, notching his 120th career point on the hat-trick tally. Littler’s four points bumped his career total to 104 points, slotting him into 15th on the team’s all-time list.
Owen Millward (Davis, Calif./Janesville Jets) made 12 saves, picking up his 11th win and second shutout victory of the year. Sullivan took the loss, making 19 saves on 25 Wenatchee shots before heading to the bench after Georgaklis’s second-period goal. Ryder Gregga made his BCHL debut in net, stopping 16 of the 23 shots he saw in relief and picking up a no-decision.
“There isn’t a lot to complain about when you win like that,” said head coach Chris Clark. “We got contributions from all four lines and all seven defensemen. Owen probably gets overlooked, but he made some really good saves, and especially after not playing for so long, to come in and have success, that was good for us. It was a good team win.”
The 13-goal outburst broke a team record set in another shutout victory, a 12-0 triumph over the Coquitlam Express on December 7, 2016. Weilandt potted a goal in his sixth straight game, tying Raabe and Burston for the longest goal-scoring streak in franchise history. It was another outstanding night for the special teams as well, as Wenatchee finished 2-for-4 on the power play, earning at least one goal on the man-advantage for the 10th straight game while killing off all four Merritt power plays along the way.
Wenatchee earned its ninth win in 11 games, moving to 25-21-1-2 for the year, while the Centennials slipped to 12-32-3-2 with the loss. The defeat also ended their battle to stay in the BCHL playoff hunt, as the Trail Smoke Eaters locked up the Interior Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. The Wild play their final regular-season road contest Saturday against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, with the opening puck drop set for 6 p.m. Live coverage is available on Newsradio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV.
Merritt stops in on March 17 for St. Hatrick’s Night, presented by Supreme Lending, to begin a season-ending four-game homestand. To purchase tickets to that game or any upcoming home game, call 509-888-7825 or click here. 2023-24 season tickets are also on sale now, as are ticket packages for the 2023 BCHL Fred Page Cup playoffs, presented locally by Windermere Real Estate. Updated news and information on Wild hockey are always available at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com and on the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Wenatchee 3 6 4 – 13
Merritt 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period-1, Wenatchee, Marshall 1 (Littler), 3:50. 2, Wenatchee, Somoza 17 (Westen, McCloskey), 5:09. 3, Wenatchee, Somoza 18 (Szydlowski), 6:44 (SH). Penalties-Hovsepyan Wen (boarding), 6:15.
2nd Period-4, Wenatchee, Murray 22 (Somoza, Berger), 5:24 (PP). 5, Wenatchee, Littler 25 (Westen, Berger), 6:17. 6, Wenatchee, Georgaklis 4 (Stefanek, Hovsepyan), 9:44. 7, Wenatchee, Somoza 19 (Gasparini, Littler), 13:46 (PP). 8, Wenatchee, Stefanek 9 (Berger, Weilandt), 16:40. 9, Wenatchee, Berger 21 (Bohnet, Georgaklis), 19:50. Penalties-Johnson Mer (cross-checking), 4:05; Marshall Wen (interference), 10:43; Sollied Mer (cross-checking), 13:11; Jones Wen (cross-checking), 14:22.
3rd Period-10, Wenatchee, Stefanek 10 (Weilandt, Marshall), 0:44. 11, Wenatchee, Berger 22 (Littler, Hovsepyan), 10:21. 12, Wenatchee, Weilandt 19 (Stefanek, Bohnet), 10:39. 13, Wenatchee, Szydlowski 8 (Stefanek, Murray), 19:25. Penalties-Szydlowski Wen (misconduct), 0:25; Sollied Mer (misconduct), 0:25; Thurston Mer (roughing), 1:35; Marshall Wen (tripping), 7:34; Thurston Mer (roughing, misconduct), 13:50.
Shots on Goal-Wenatchee 16-18-14-48. Merritt 4-3-5-12.
Power Play Opportunities-Wenatchee 2 / 4; Merritt 0 / 4.
Goalies-Wenatchee, Millward 11-9-1-1 (12 shots-12 saves). Merritt , Sullivan 3-15-0-0 (25 shots-19 saves); Gregga 0-0-0-0 (23 shots-16 saves).
Referees-Bronson Tazalaar (22), Brady Pawlachuk (114).
Linesmen-Tayler Belcourt (125), Wyatt Trent.