Wenatchee Wild Saturday Win Adds To Record Month
By Austin Draude, Wenatchee Wild Media Relations and Broadcast Manager
PHOTO CAPTION: Wenatchee forward Micah Berger during a recent home game. Berger notched his team-best sixth game-winning goal Saturday in a 3-1 win at the Merritt Centennials. (Photo credit: Russ Alman/Digital Media Northwest)
MERRITT, British Columbia – The small ice surface at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena can change a play quickly. Breakouts happen rapidly, and a turnover can become a scoring chance in the blink of an eye. The Wenatchee Wild took advantage of that Saturday night, tallying two goals in the second period on the way to a 3-1 victory over the Merritt Centennials, closing out their best month in three years.
After sending 101 shots on the net in the first two meetings between the teams, the Wild sent 42 more at Centennials goaltender Conor Sullivan in Saturday’s game. However, it was Merritt’s Jackson Krill who dented the scoreboard first, putting one over the right shoulder of Andy Vlaha with 1:49 left in the opening period to send the Centennials to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
Wenatchee battled to tie the game for most of the second period, and with 7:02 left on the clock, the Wild broke through – at neutral ice, Lucas Marshall pushed the puck ahead to Luke Weilandt, who drove in on a 2-on-0 and tossed the puck past Sullivan to tie the game. The lead went to Wenatchee to stay with 1:46 left in the second, when Jason Stefanek fed the puck to Micah Berger across the low slot, and Berger banged in a one-timer for the 2-1 lead.
The Wild killed off a Merritt power play midway through the third period, and maintained the lead through a pair of 4-on-4 sequences later on. With 1:03 remaining, Jackson Murphy-Johnson landed in the penalty box on a boarding call, giving Wenatchee one last power play. They converted with an empty-net goal just 16 seconds later, when Parker Murray slid the puck into the empty net from just inside the Centennials’ blue line.
“We’ve got to come out ready to go,” said Wild head coach Chris Clark. “I didn’t like our start, but I liked our second (period) and I liked our third. Our guys stuck with it and didn’t get frustrated, and you have to give their goalie credit. I thought he was outstanding tonight.”
Wenatchee added to its run of success on the power play, going 1-for-3 on the man-advantage and notching a power play goal for the eighth straight night, while the penalty kill turned away all four Merritt power plays. Ean Somoza picked up the primary assist on Murray’s goal, helping him extend his season-best point streak to 10 games. Andy Vlaha made 20 saves to earn his 13th win of the season, while Sullivan stopped 39 Wild shots in the loss.
Wenatchee moved to 23-21-1-2 for the year, while the Centennials dropped to 11-29-3-2 with the loss. The Wild won six of their eight games in February, marking their best month since going 7-1-1 in February of 2020.
The Chilliwack Chiefs make a brief visit to Town Toyota Center on March 4 for Guns & Hoses Night, presented by Starr Ranch Growers. Local police and firefighters will play their annual game at 4 p.m., followed by the Wild and Chiefs at 6 p.m. Live coverage is available on NewsRadio 560 KPQ and 101.7FM or BCHL TV. 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.