Sunday, April 14, 2024

Wenatchee charges back for 3-2 overtime win at Calgary Friday

Wild erase two-goal deficit in 25-second span, earn win on Sward goal early in overtime


CALGARY, Alberta – The Calgary Hitmen scored twice in the opening six minutes of Friday’s Western Hockey League game at Scotiabank Saddledome, and while the Wenatchee Wild were certainly putting in the work, the Calgary defense made sure they weren’t being rewarded for it.

The Wild continued putting in the work…and eventually, they received all the reward they needed. As for the Hitmen, after those initial six minutes, they never scored again.

Graham Sward banged in a rebound in front of the net just 57 seconds into overtime, and the Wild snatched a 3-2 win to climb back into fourth place in the WHL’s Western Conference standings. After trailing by two goals for more than two full periods, it took just 25 seconds for Wenatchee to wipe away the Calgary lead entirely.

Those first six minutes set an optimistic tone for the hosts, though – Reese Hamilton’s pass found Maxim Muranov on the back door, and he stuffed a shot into the net to take the lead just 40 seconds into the game. Pavel Bocharov pulled the puck around a defender and slipped it through for the 2-0 Hitmen lead at the 5:54 mark.

Though the Hitmen were dominant at the faceoff dot, the Wild held their own at the offensive end of the rink. Calgary won 15 of the 19 faceoffs in the game’s first 20 minutes, and 32 of the 40 restarts over the first two periods. However, the shots-on-goal margin going to the final period was just 22-20 in favor of Calgary, and the Wild rattled off 21 more in the third period alone.

With Carter Yakemchuk in the penalty box for the Hitmen, the Wild power play struck – Sward’s shot down the slot was blocked in front of the net, but Steven Arp found it for a tap-in at the 6:25 mark of the third to cut it to a 2-1 game. Caelan Joudrey, hailing from nearby Airdrie, split two defenders in transition and tossed a forehand shot to the top half of the net to tie the game at 6:50. The first shot in overtime ended up in the back of the net – Kenta Isogai’s shot from the left wing was batted down, but Sward threw home the rebound to give Wenatchee a hard-fought win.

“The guys played well, especially in the second and third (periods),” said Wild head coach Roy Sommer. “(Brendan) Gee made a couple of big saves down the stretch to keep us in it. It was a rough start, but a good finish.”

Sward led the way with a goal and an assist, while Isogai finished with a pair of helpers. Brendan Gee earned his 12th win for the Wild by making 31 saves on 33 Calgary shots. The Wild were strong on special teams again, going 1-for-4 on the power play and wiping away both Hitmen chances on the man-advantage. Ethan Buenaventura made 39 saves in the loss, as the Wild climbed to 29-23-4-0 for the season and Calgary slipped to 23-25-7-1. Wenatchee pulled ahead of the Victoria Royals by virtue of Victoria’s loss to Portland, while Tri-City’s loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors helped the Wild whittle their magic number for a playoff spot to just eight points.


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