WENATCHEE — For the Wenatchee Wild, the offense Friday night was too Littler, too late.
A Cade Littler hat trick wasn’t enough for the Wild to avoid their second loss to the West Kelowna Warriors in as many nights, dropping their record to 2-8 on the season. After the game, head coach Chris Clark praised Littler for his work on the ice.
“He’s obviously a very gifted hockey,” Clark said. “He scored three spectacular goals tonight, all in a different fashion.”
Thursday and Friday represented the Wild’s first home games since March 6, 2020, and after opening the season with a month on the road, Clark is just happy to be back on home ice.
“It was incredible,” Clark said. “We missed our fans, we missed having hockey in the Town Toyota Center. And to just have everybody back, two great atmospheres. The Wild fans, just like always didn’t disappoint.”
The first period was largely controlled by the West Kelowna offense, with the Warriors outscoring the Wild while also taking more shots on goal. The first goal was scored by Tyler Cristall off assists by Marcus Joughin and Damon Jugnauth with just over eight minutes remaining in the period. Cristall found the net again mere seconds before the end of the period, his 10th goal of the season, with assists by Nicolas Ardanaz and Tyler Rubin.
“We got to compete for 60 minutes,” Clark said. “If you look at both nights, we had a period in each game where we weren’t our best. And against a good team like West Kelowna, if you don’t play for a full 60 minutes, it makes it really tough to beat them. But again, this is a lesson we gotta learn now.”
The Warriors opened the scoring in the second period as well with a Rubin goal assisted by Brennan Nelson and Chase Dafoe with 17:06 remaining in the period. Littler found the back of the net for the first time in the second period off a power play for the Wild, with Landon Parker and Ean Somoza on the assist, cutting the lead to 3-1.
But West Kelowna wasn’t finished in the second period, with a Felix Trudeau score and an assist by Alexi Van Houtte-Cachero. Heading into the locker room after the second period, the Warriors held a 4-1 lead.
The Wild cut the lead to 4-2 in the third period, finding the back of the net again off of a Connor Overson assist. Littler completed the hat trick minutes later, with assists by Somoza and Parker.
Littler was the Wild’s lone source of offense on the night, with the team losing by a final of 4-3.
“I’m very encouraged by our group, I’m excited about our group as we continue to move forward,” Clark said. “We’re getting better each week, and that’s what we set out to do since the start of training camp. And I can honestly say our guys are getting better each week, and I’m excited to continue to work with this group.”
The Wild head out on the road next weekend for a three-game, three-city road trip to Nanaimo, Victoria and Langley before returning to the Town Toyota Center to take on Salmon Arm Nov. 26.