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WILD SHAKE OFF EARLY DEFICIT TO DEFEAT PISTONS

PHOTO: Nathan Iannone (22) and the Wenatchee Wild won their second game at the Royal Bank Cup Tournament on Sunday, a 4-3 triumph over the Steinbach Pistons in regulation. CREDIT: RBC Cup Facebook page

by Arch Ecker

After falling behind by a pair of goals in the opening five minutes of play, the Wenatchee Wild rallied to eventually post a 4-3 win over the Steinbach Pistons on Sunday afternoon at the Royal Bank Cup National Tournament in Chilliwack, BC.

Steinbach jumped out front at 2:33 of the first period when Luke Bellerose squeezed a shot past Austin Park just inside the glove side post, then doubled their lead to 2-0 when Austin Heidemann scooted behind the Wild defense and tucked a soft shot through Park’s leg pads at 5:06. Surrendering two goals on the first four shots, Park was lifted and Seth Eisele brought in for the remainder of the game. In the final minute of the opening period, Jasper Weatherby lifted a wrister over the blocker of Piston goalie Matt Thiessen to get the Wild on the board, assisted by AJ Vanderbeck. The Pistons outshot Wenatchee 11-8 in the first period.

Coaches often mention the effect of goals scored in the first minute, and the last minute of periods. Weatherby delivered both, following up his late first period goal with an early second period goal to tie the game at 2-2. He came in to the zone on the left wing, took a short pass from AJ Vanderbeck, and patiently weaved his way into the slot where he tucked a backhander around Thiessen just :21 seconds into the period. The Wild went on to outshoot Steinbach 15-4 in the middle frame, though the game remained tied at 2-2 through 40 minutes of play.

The Pistons got a jolt of life in the third when Daniel McKitrick finished off a nice crossing pass from Tyson McConnell down low and Steinbach reclaimed the lead at 2:26, but the Wild responded to tie the game at 3-3 nearly :90 seconds later when Zak Galambos one-timed a power play goal from the left circle, assisted by Cooper Zech and Weatherby. Wenatchee took the lead for the first time as Chad Sasaki fired a pass up through the neutral zone to Josh Arnold who crossed the blue line, then dished right to AJ Vanderbeck who wound up and blasted a shot that whistled past Thiessen for a 4-3 Wild lead at 7:31. Wenatchee held the Pistons to just 4 third period shots and held on for the 4-3 regulation win, earning three round robin points in the process. Seth Eisele stopped 14 of 15 shots in relief to earn the victory.

The Royal Bank Cup Tournament continues for Wenatchee Tuesday at 2pm when the Wild meet the East Region Fred Page Cup winners, the Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL), who are 1-0-1 in the tournament with 3 points. Then on Thursday at 2pm it’s the winner of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, the Wellington Dukes (OJHL). Competition beyond that point is dependent upon round robin results.