WENATCHEE – Down six guys and with a depleted bench, the Wild gave a gritty performance to close out their turkey-weekend on a happy note following Friday’s blowout loss to Nanaimo.
Wenatchee outshot Langley 29-17 and dominated the final two periods as they came back from one goal down to beat the Rivermen 3-2 Saturday night at Town Toyota.
“We played a heavy team (Friday) and Nanaimo made us pay, but after the first period, I thought we were better and we grew a little bit,” Wild head coach Bliss Littler said. It would have been easy to throw in the towel (Saturday), we had a very depleted lineup but I was very proud of how hard we played.”
Wenatchee was without Drake Usher, Luke Gallagher, Luke Ormsby, Nick Cafarelli, Jack Bayless and Sam Morton, who’s expected to show up on Tuesday, but gutted out the win thanks to a two-point performance from Hunter Hastings and a bounceback game from netminder Daniel Chenard.
But the start wasn’t ideal. Langley got on the board 27 seconds into the game after Tristan Fraser collected a loose puck in front of the net and slid it past Chenard.
It took the Wild a few shifts to get going but midway through the period they flipped a switch, and really controlled the game from there.
“We lost a draw and no one picked up the shooter but a couple more shifts went by and we started to create some chances in the offensive zone,” Littler said.
Wenatchee fired off a barrage of shots over the final 10 minutes of the first but couldn’t get one through, heading into intermission trailing 1-0.
The Wild got on a powerplay at the start of the second period and converted, with captain Brian Adams stuffing home a rebound from the dot to even the score at 1-1. Wenatchee outshot Langley by more than a 2-to-1 margin in the period, but the Rivermen were able to nab another goal to retake the lead at the 12:55 mark.
Just a couple minutes later though the Wild leveled the score back at two after defenseman Jerrett Overland threw a puck on net through traffic and scored – his first of the season.
Wenatchee continued to pressure Langley in the third, holding them to just two shots in the period, and was rewarded with a fantastic game-winner from Hastings, who ripped a perfect wrister top-shelf with 11 minutes left.
“That was impressive and Matt Dorsey goes like ‘That looked like AJ Vanderbeck’ – the former captain now at Northern Michigan University,” Littler said. “(Hunter) ripped it and it was nice to see him get rewarded.”
The Wild were able to hold on over the final 10 minutes, securing their fourth win in their last six.
Wenatchee closes out its four-game homestand Wednesday night against Penticton, who currently sit atop the Interior Division with 23 wins and 47 points. Puck drops at 6 p.m.
“We’re going to have our hands full but it’s another challenge,” Littler said. “We know at some point we will get healthy. We like the pieces we have on the roster we just have to get healthy. But I’m excited to see how hard we will compete Wednesday night.”
Following Penticton the Wild head out for three games against Vernon, Coquitlam and the Trail Smoke Eaters.