The Wenatchee Wild opened their 2018-19 season on Friday night on the road, and after falling behind 2-0 in the opening period, rallied to claim a 5-3 win over the Vernon Vipers at Kal Tire Place in Vernon, BC.
The home crowd jumped to their feet only 1:45 into the game when Connor Marritt swatted home a bouncing puck near the crease for a 1-0 Vernon lead. The Vipers looked to add to their lead when they had 1:14 of 5-on-3 power play time, but the stingy Wild penalty killers held them off. Back at full strength, Josh Prokop put the Vipers up 2-0 when he wired a low shot on the rush from the right circle at 15:21. The Wild carved into the Vernon lead at 16:09 when Jacob Modry blasted a slapshot from the top of the right circle to cap off a textbook zone entry on the power play, set up crisply by Matt Gosiewski and Lucas Sowder.
Wenatchee picked up the pace in the second period, outshooting the Vipers 13-9, and successfully killed off another Vernon power play to stay close. With the Wild on a man-advantage late in the period, another snappy passing sequence set up Christophe Fillion for a game-tying goal, assisted by Jacques Bouquot and Chad Sasaki. The second period drew to a close with the game even at two goals apiece.
Just :45 into the final frame, Alex Swetlikoff drove down the left wing into the Wild zone and flicked the puck into the crease as he was being forced wide. The puck took a favorable home bounce off a pad and a stick and snuck across the line for a 3-2 Viper lead. The Wild tied it up on a blue-collar, gritty goal by Christophe Tellier who refused to give up on a play and was able to poke the puck through the goalie’s pads to tie the game at 3-3, assisted by Avery Winslow. Roughly two minutes later, Wild defenseman Ryan Wilson took a feed from Brandon Koch at the midpoint, and from the left circle, dipped his shoulder and outlasted a Vernon defender before ripping home what proved to be the game winning goal. Cristophe Fillion netted his second of the night two minutes later for an insurance goal, assisted by Nathan Iannone and Tellier. The Wild finished 3-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, outshooting the home team 36-24. Austin Park stopped 21 of 24 shots for the win.
Wenatchee (1-0-0) travels to Surrey (0-1-0) on Saturday to face the Eagles. The Wild Home Opener will be Friday October 12 against the Nanaimo Clippers, and will feature the unveiling of the Championship Banners, a Ring Ceremony, and more.