Wild take 2 on road, advance
Saturday, April 14, 2012
PALMER, Alaska — The Wenatchee Wild will be taking the long flight home from Alaska, but much to their delight, it will be delayed by over a week.
Evan Schmidbauer punched the Wild’s ticket to the North American Hockey League West finals by scoring in the fourth period on an assist from Matt Cope to give Wenatchee a thrilling 2-1 overtime win against the pesky Alaska Avalanche in the decisive Game 5 of the NAHL West semifinals on Saturday at the Palmer Ice Arena.
The Wild will remain in the Last Frontier State to face the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the NAHL West finals. The Wild, who were 3-5 against the Ice Dogs this season, will face Fairbanks in the second round for the fourth consecutive year. This is the third time that Wenatchee has disposed of Alaska in the semifinals.
These two teams had to squeeze every last second out of their first round playoff series. For the third time in five games, the two teams went to overtime after Game 5 ended in a 1-1 tie during regulation.
Defense was the main ingredient in the first frame as Wenatchee finagled just six shots on goal compared to five from Alaska.
Wenatchee looked poised to take the lead halfway through the middle stanza as a crowd around the net saw Avalanche keeper Bodhi Engum flat on his back. Wenatchee couldn’t capitalize, but received an unexpected second chance when Engum covered up the puck in the crease which gave the Wild a rare penalty shot, which Chris Kerr failed to convert.
With each shot carrying to potential promise of becoming a series clincher, the Wild were able to light the first red lamp. Kyle Huson fired a 70-foot shot that rebounded off Engum onto the stick of Blake Roubos. The forward took advantage of the fortunate bounce and popped the pill past Engum to place his team on top with 2:13 left in the period. Huson earned the assist. The score followed Roubos’s two-goal performance on Friday.
But before the Wild had a chance to catch their collective breath, that breath was taken away along with the lead by Wehebe Darge, who notched the equalizer 15 seconds after Roubos’s goal. Darge took advantage of Wild goalie Greg Lewis being slightly out of position in front of the net.
Heralded golie Robert Nichols spent the entire game riding the pine. Rather than stick with the two-man goalie rotation he has employed for most of the season, John Becanic elected to start Lewis for the second consecutive night. Lewis blocked 22 of 23 saves on Friday. Alaska also elected to go with its second-string goalie as Engum started for the fourth straight game in place of starter Nick Kulmanovsky.
The Wild made Saturday’s Game 5 possilbe by thrashing Alaska 7-1 on the strength of six power play goals.
MORE LIKE THIS
Friday, May 24
BNI Wenatchee Valley Friday
Smitty's Pancake House, 7 a.m.
Monday, May 27
Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking - Toastmasters Meeting
First United Methodist Church, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 28
Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N. Wenatchee Ave., 7 a.m.
Tuesday, May 28
Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group
Lake Chelan Community Hospital, 1:30 p.m.