FRISCO, Texas — The Wenatchee Wild’s season came to a disappointing end with a 5-0 loss Monday against the Amarillo Bulls in the Robertson Cup championship at Dr Pepper Arena.
Wenatchee faced a worthy adversary in the Bulls, who ended the regular season with a North American Hockey League-best 99 points, and didn’t have enough energy to meet the challenge.
The Wild clinched the NAHL West Division last Tuesday, which left them with a shorter window for recuperation. Amarillo, on the other hand, punched its ticket to the Robertson Cup on April 30 — nine days before the round robin tournament’s start.
“I just think that five games in eight nights was too much for us,” coach Bliss Litter said. “They were a better team from the drop of the puck.”
Wenatchee, playing in its second Robertson Cup championship in franchise history, gave up two scores in the first period, the first a goal from Joe Grabowski on a power play and another from Tyler Deresky. It went into the first intermission trailing 2-0 and already facing an uphill battle.
But the hole got deeper in the second period. The Bulls’ Ryan Cole scored a shorthanded goal to make it 3-0 and tallied another two minutes later to give his team an insurmountable lead.
Amarillo’s Omar Mullan scored one last time 15 minutes into the third period to make it 5-0.
Littler attributed the one-sided affair to exhaustion and added that his players did their best to compete on limited rest.
“The mistakes we made,” the first-year coach said. “They were fatigue mistakes.”
The Wild defeated the Bulls 7-0 on Sunday to advance to the title game. The Bulls split net time between goalies Paul Berrafato and Collin Delia in that contest.
Wenatchee made its lengthy postseason run with a stable of seasoned veterans that will age out of junior hockey. Goalie Robert Nichols, who recorded 19 saves on 24 shots in Monday’s loss, will play for the University of Connecticut next season.
Forward Jono Davis received a scholarship to play at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and defenseman Joshua Hartley will play for Dartmouth next season. All three schools have Division-I hockey programs.
Chris Kerr, Noah Nelson, Jacob Barber and David Mead will also age out.
The Wild have made three Robertson Cup appearances since they joined the NAHL in 2008. They ended the 2012-13 season with an NAHL West division-best 84 points.
Between the tough traveling schedule in the division and a pair of West playoff series that went to game 5, it was a trying season for Wenatchee.
“I’m proud of the group,” Littler said. “They had a lot of reasons to pack it in several times this year, but kept their head high and kept battling.”