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WILD STUN EXPRESS WITH THRILLING OT WIN

PHOTO: Wild defenseman Brandon Koch (3) carries the puck out of the defensive zone. 
CREDIT: Damon James Photography

The Wenatchee Wild never held a lead during Sunday afternoon’s matchup in Coquitlam until a breakaway game winner in sudden death overtime capped an exciting come-from-behind 4-3 win for Wenatchee.

The Wild opened the game with a strong offensive push but only had near misses to show for it. The Express took a 1-0 lead when Connor Gregga took a pass from the left wing and sped through the Wenatchee zone, cutting to the net to tuck the shot past Austin Park. Late in the second period, a zone clearing attempt by Wenatchee was held in at the right by Express defenseman Jack Cameron who skated in to the middle of the right circle and snapped a wrister home to put Coquitlam ahead 2-0. 45 seconds later the Wild got on the board as AJ Hodges lined a sharp pass from the right wing wall to Brandon Koch at the left point, and Koch’s shot was tipped in by Nathan Iannone, and the Express led 2-1 after 2 periods.

The Wild had to kill off a pair of third period penalties but were creating quality chances and keeping good pressure, but when Christian Sanda scored a backhander on the right wing rush with roughly 5 minutes to play, the Express were in a position to snuff their seven game winless streak with a 3-1 lead at home over a depleted Wild squad playing their third game in less than 48 hours. With two minutes left to play, a turning point in the game as the Express took a retaliation penalty when Jordan Schulting cross checked Christophe Fillion across the back of the head after Fillion had bumped Juliano Santalucia in the corner. The Wild went on the power play and once they had possession of the puck in the offensive zone, pulled Austin Park for the extra skater, but they didn’t need it. PJ Fletcher had won the draw, AJ Hodges steered it to Matt Dorsey at the left point, and Dorsey teed it up for Chad Sasaki who drilled it home from the midpoint to pull the Wild within a goal. Less than a minute later, Park played the puck behind his net, offering it to Sasaki who lofted the puck through the neutral zone. It was hunted down by Marko Reifenberger who fired it home with 1:00 left in regulation to tie the game at 3-3, and the game headed to overtime. As the extra session was in its final half minute, the puck popped out of the corner where Murphy Stratton was able to collect it and race in on a breakaway, and his shoulder dip followed by a forehand-backhand move delivered the game winning goal, the second overtime win for the Wild on the trip. Austin Park ended up with 22 saves and many of them were outstanding stops on high quality Express chances.

The Wild line chart listed six players out due to injury again, including two of the top three scorers and a whopping 30% of the Wild offense all told. Players are expected to begin returning to the lineup possibly as soon as this weekend.

Wenatchee (29-19-2-4) heads home for their final two home games of the regular season against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The games will be available for video streaming on HockeyTV, and will be broadcast live both locally and via internet stream on “NewsRadio 560 KPQ”, with the Pregame Shows starting 15 minutes prior to faceoff.