WENATCHEE — In a month or so, the Wenatchee Wild could have two elite lines to propel an already proficient offense.
The North American Hockey League West-leading squad picked up center Joe Sullivan last week in a trade and, already, Sullivan’s begun to make a mark.
“I couldn’t be more excited when he came in,” fellow center Max McHugh said. “Both of us are centers that play similar styles. … We both see the ice well, we can make plays.”
McHugh’s proven his worth during his stint with Wenatchee (26-5-3 overall). The 19-year-old has recorded 27 points this season skating alongside forwards Noah Nelson and Jono Davis.
It’s still early, but Sullivan’s shown a glimpse of what the future may hold, and it’s looking good.
The 18-year-old wasted no time contributing, knocking in a goal and recording an assist in his first weekend with the Wild against the Fresno Monsters.
Sullivan, who skates alongside Jacob Barber and Chris Kerr, demonstrated his ability to win face-offs, facilitate the puck and create some offense of his own. Wenatchee went on to outscore Fresno 8-0 last weekend in back-to-back wins, thanks largely to stellar goaltending and some favorable bounces.
But in all likelihood, it’s just a preview of things to come.
“It’ll take us a while to learn to play together, but I like our potential,” coach Bliss Littler said.
While Littler, McHugh and the rest of the squad are happy to have the new center aboard, Sullivan could be just as thrilled. Maybe more so.
“It’s really good to play with this type of team,” he said. “Certain players don’t even have to worry about scoring.”
Sullivan, who described himself as a defensive-minded center, said he was excited to join a prosperous program with a winning tradition. He played for the NAHL’s Aberdeen Wings, which is in the midst of a 13 game losing streak, before the trade.
Although he was a little nervous early on, he settled in shortly after recording his first goal with the Wild last Friday against the Monsters in the second period.
Although the transition’s far from complete, it’s gone smooth to this point, and Sullivan said his teammates have had a lot to do with him making the ongoing adjustments.
This weekend’s rematch against Fresno (10-19-5 overall), a two-game homestand that begins at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Town Toyota Center, will be another step in a long walk to creating what should be a very dominant hockey team come March.
“We have a number of different ways to win,” Littler said. “But that being said, if you don’t show up and bring your ‘A’ game, you’re going to get beat.”
Top Prospects Tournament
The Wild will send five players to the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on Feb. 18-20 in Troy, Mich. Littler will coach the Frontier team and Fairbanks Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart will be the assistant coach.
The Kenai River Brown Bears, Fresno Monsters and Ice Dogs will send four players to the tournament and there will be three additional wild card players selected by the NAHL competition committee.
Former Wild player honored
Former Wenatchee defender Chris Rumble, a freshman at Canisius College, was named the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week after helping his team sweep the Sacred Heart Pioneers. Rumble plays for the Canisius College Golden Griffins, an NCAA Division I program.
Playing in just his second and third games, Rumble scored his first career goal during a power play Friday and also recorded two assists in the two-game stretch.