Wenatchee Wild Earn Weekend Sweep
WENATCHEE, Wash. – To make the climb up the Interior Conference ladder in the season’s final weeks, the Wenatchee Wild will need to prove they can play with the very best the British Columbia Hockey League has to offer.
The Wild did a good job of making that impression Saturday night, following up Friday’s 3-2 shootout win against the Cranbrook Bucks with a 4-2 victory and earning a sweep against the conference’s second-place team. Wenatchee heads into a matchup against the league’s top team next weekend with wins in six of its last seven games.
Micah Berger opened the game with a bang, sliding a shot underneath Bucks goaltender Carter Capton from the left point just 22 seconds off of the opening faceoff to put the Wild in front. Wenatchee held the lead from that moment on, but a sharp-angle marker from Jason Stefanek along the right side with 4:32 left in the period extended the first-intermission lead to 2-0.
Cranbrook battled to narrow the lead in the second, with the Bucks out-shooting their hosts 15-9 in the middle stanza. However, it took until an odd-man rush on a penalty kill in the third period before Cranbrook could cut into the Wenatchee advantage – Jaxon Fuder and Donovan Frias both held off Arvega Hovsepyan on a rush into the Wild zone before Frias tucked the puck past Andy Vlaha with 9:45 remaining, trimming the lead to 2-1.
The response from Wenatchee came just 22 seconds later, and it came in historic fashion – Parker Murray sent a pass to Cade Littler to hammer home on the back post, giving Littler a power play goal in a fourth straight game, the first Wenatchee player ever to do so. Jaden Fodchuk tossed a shot past a well-screened Vlaha to cut into the lead again with 7:21 remaining, but Luke Weilandt broke free and walked the puck into an empty Cranbrook net to seal the win with 1:03 remaining.
“We’re moving the puck around well (on the power play) and we’re catching them out of position,” said Wenatchee associate head coach Tom Rudrud. “[Cade] is finding himself alone on the back door, and the guys who are getting him the passes are putting it right in his wheelhouse, and he’s one-timing pucks, or he’s catching them and getting rid of them very quickly. That’s one of the keys to scoring goals.”
Littler finished the night with a goal and an assist, as did Weilandt, while Vlaha earned his 12th win of the season behind 31 saves. The Wild picked up a power play goal in their sixth straight game, and wiped away all four Cranbrook chances on the man-advantage. Littler moved within four points of the century mark for his Wild career, while Ean Somoza added an assist to bump his career total to 112 points with the Wild, moving into a tie for seventh on the team’s all-time scoring leaderboard.
The Wild moved to 22-20-1-2, while Cranbrook dropped to 29-11-1-2 with the loss, taking back-to-back losses for the first time since October. The win also clinched the head-to-head season series for the Wild, earning their fourth win in six chances with just one more meeting between the teams on March 18 at Town Toyota Center. Wenatchee heads on the road Friday and Saturday with road games at Penticton and Merritt, respectively. Both games are set to begin at 7 p.m., with live coverage on Newsradio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV.
The Chilliwack Chiefs will be the next team to visit Wenatchee on March 4, as they head to town for Guns & Hoses Night, presented by Starr Ranch Growers. To purchase tickets to that game or any upcoming home game, call 509-888-7825 or purchase online at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com. 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.