PHOTO: Wenatchee Wild players gather around the center circle to salute the fans at a recent home game. The Wild fell 5-1 to the Penticton Vees Wednesday at Town Toyota Center, ending their 2022-23 season. (Photo credit: Russ Alman/Digital Media Northwest)

By Austin Draude Wenatchee Wild Media Relations and Broadcast Manager

WENATCHEE, Wash. – The Wenatchee Wild were one of the last eight teams standing in the British Columbia Hockey League postseason, but the Penticton Vees will be the team continuing its quest for the Fred Page Cup after their Interior Conference semifinal meeting Wednesday at Town Toyota Center.

Bradly Nadeau snagged the lead for Penticton 21 seconds into Game 4 of the teams’ best-of-seven postseason series, and the Vees never looked back on the way to a 5-1 victory, closing out the Wild and earning a spot in next week’s conference final round. Nadeau’s goal came on a rebound, following Frank Djurasevic’s shot from the right-wing boards, Penticton’s first shot on net in the evening.

Josh Nadeau found the back of the net with 4:15 left on the first-period clock, scoring from just inside the right circle to stretch the lead to 2-0 at the first intermission. The Vees added two more in the second period, starting with Hiroki Gojsic’s goal from the top of the faceoff circles just two minutes into the stanza. Penticton pushed the lead to 4-0 just before the halfway mark of the game, when Brett Moravec drove the puck into the Wild end and scored on the rush to highlight the Vees’ second penalty kill of the night.

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The Wild battled to get back into the game, and got one final highlight with goaltender Andy Vlaha on the bench for the extra attacker. Mario Gasparini’s frozen-rope wrist shot with 3:05 remaining hit the back of the net from just inside the blue line, trimming the Penticton margin to 4-1. Josh Nadeau added his second goal of the night into the empty Wenatchee net, closing out the evening for the Vees.

“All of a sudden you’re down a goal with 59 minutes left, and it’s hard to get two against [Penticton],” said Wild assistant coach Leigh Mendelson. “They have the puck an awful lot, so all the credit goes to them. That’s a really good team, really well-disciplined and really well-coached with a lot of talent.”

Josh Nadeau finished with two goals, while Bradly Nadeau highlighted the offense for the visitors with a goal and two assists, giving him a point in all eight of Penticton’s postseason appearances heading into the conference final. Dovar Tinling had a couple of assists for the Vees, while Luca Di Pasquo earned the victory in net behind a 28-save performance.

Vlaha took the loss for the Wild, making 39 saves. It was another exceptional showing for the penalty-killing units, as both power plays came up empty on two chances.

The loss ends a 2022-23 campaign for the Wild that saw 32 total wins during the regular season and postseason, and the team’s first postseason series victory since 2019 with a six-game conference quarterfinal triumph over the Cranbrook Bucks. Nearly 79,000 fans filed into Town Toyota Center for 31 regular season and postseason home dates, including the largest regular-season home crowd since 2011 on March 4 for the team’s “Guns & Hoses” promotion. Two Wild players – Micah Berger and Ean Somoza – remain alive in the race for BCHL postseason awards, which will be announced before the start of the conference finals.

2023-24 season tickets are on sale now – for more information, call 509-888-7825 or stop into the Wild front office. Updated news and information on Wild hockey are always available through the team’s website and on the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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