WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Wild wound up on the right side of another closely contested game that once again went into overtime.
The Wild beat the Brown Bears on Friday at Town Toyota Center in an inspired 2-1 shootout performance to give the team its second consecutive post-regulation victory in as many nights.
On Thursday, Wenatchee (28-6-4 overall) assembled a three-goal rally — including Joe Sullivan’s game-winning overtime score — to come from behind and steal two points in dramatic fashion.
On Friday, the home team staved off what could have been a depleting defeat with a picturesque shootout series.
Goalie Robert Nichols came up big with back-to-back stops, Jacob Barber popped the puck in for the team’s first shootout score and Chris Kerr put in the game-winning shot. It was Kerr’s second of the night and the first shootout goal of his career.
“We had to focus on winning, and we thought we had the game,” he said. “We just had to focus on getting that extra point in the shootout.”
Nichols, who finished the night with 32 saves, kept Kenai River (15-19-6 overall) from hitting the back of the net in four tries during the shootout.
The keeper said he was determined to atone for last weekend, when Wenatchee lost a 4-3 shootout against Fresno at home.
“It’s fun,” said Nichols, who recorded six saves in overtime alone. “Especially that type of scenario. … We’ll take the two points anyway we can get them.”
Unlike Thursday’s comeback, the Wild had to regroup after a late Brown Bears goal guaranteed overtime.
Trailing 1-0 with less than a minute left in regulation, Kenai River pulled its goalie to put another attacker on the ice. In a series of unfortunate events, the Wild incurred a penalty for having too many men on the ice, which left them shorthanded.
Their luck worsened when defender Joshua Hartley’s stick broke in their defending zone, which left them with only three fully-equipped men on the ice.
Wenatchee couldn’t clear the danger and gave up a goal with three seconds left in regulation.
Wild coach Bliss Littler, who called the last-second score a “backbreaker,” was pleased with the way his team battled back.
‘We had a little adversity there at the end,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to battle through that adversity.”
Needless to say, this one didn’t come easy.
Tempers flared on both sides of the rink Friday, and the teams combined for 82 penalty minutes, which included nine fighting infractions. Defender David Mead was ejected early in the second period after his second fighting infraction.
Kerr, whose first score of the night came early in the first period, was happy to come away with win, but said he and his teammates need to do a better job of converting power play opportunities into scores. The Wild were 0-for-5 in that department and the Brown Bears were 0-for-4.
“It was nice to win the shootout. I mean, we didn’t want it to get to there,” he said. “We struggled a little bit in the power play, but we played a pretty good game. We just couldn’t get the puck in the net. It was nice to get the two points, but we have to do better as a team.”