WENATCHEE — The Wild kept rolling Friday night and pushed their winning streak to four games after hammering the Merritt Centennials for a second straight night 6-2 at Town Toyota Center.
Cade Littler has been sizzling out on the ice the past two weeks and added four more points to his season total with three goals and an assist. Littler has eight points in his last three games (five goals, three assists).
“I thought we were a little sloppy in the first period, but in the second and third we were able to do a ton of good things,” head coach Chris Clark said after the win. “You really have to give their goalie credit for stopping 90% of the shots in that game. He was outstanding, but not to get lost in that was Tyler Shea, who was equally good for us in net. He made some unbelievable saves in tight moments that could have changed the complexity of the game.”
It took the Wild a little bit to get settled in, but once they did, Wenatchee was able to use its forecheck to generate a bevy of chances. Wenatchee dominated the shot total 68-32.
Littler opened the scoring seven minutes into the first period, stuffing in a rebound from in front of the crease. The goal started a Teddy Bear barrage as fans heaved a hodgepodge of stuffed animals over the glass for players to sweep into the back of two Town Toyota trucks. The Wild have done this event for years, donating stuffed animals to charity.
Cade Stibbe netted the Wild’s second goal six minutes later, scoring short-handed after stealing the puck in the neutral zone. The Wild were able to get on a 5-on-3 late in the period but were unable to convert and the Centennials took advantage, cutting into the Wenatchee lead with a goal at the 17:18 mark.
Wenatchee dominated the second period, riding their strong forecheck. Litter scored his second goal of the night just over a minute in and then Ben Ivey scored his fourth goal of the season with seven minutes left. The ice was tilted throughout the period as Wenatchee outshot Merritt 28-9.
“That forecheck has got to be a staple in our game,” Clark said. “We have to lead with our sticks and spend time in our zone-offense, which I thought we did a good job of that tonight. Anytime you can rack up (68) shots in a game, you’re doing some good things. I thought we got contributions from all four lines tonight.”
The Centennials were able to keep things somewhat close after recording a goal late in the second period, but they were blanked in the third. Owen Bohn netted his 10th goal of the season to push the lead to 5-2 and then Littler notched the hat trick with 50 seconds left in the game.
The Wild might have started off a little slow, but they’ve turned a corner the last three weeks and are starting to click offensively. Wenatchee has a 29-14 goal advantage in the month of December and has scored at least four goals in all of their last four games.
“I think it’s a process,” Clark said. “We knew that things would take time and guys are starting to build their confidence through preparation and doing things over and over in practice. I’m happy with the group and how we’ve been playing these last three weeks.
Wenatchee has one more game against Merritt Saturday night before enjoying a 10-day break for the holidays. Puck drop on Saturday is at 6 p.m.
“We can’t worry about the break, we have to take care of what we can and we still have one big game tomorrow night,” Clark said.