PHOTO: Wenatchee Wild forward Oscar Lovsin leads the high-five line after one of his two goals in Friday’s 6-5 win over the Portland Winterhawks at Town Toyota Center. (Photo courtesy: Russ Alman/Wenatchee Wild)

Austin Draude Wenatchee Wild Media & Broadcast Manager

The Wenatchee Wild made their official debut in the Western Hockey League Friday night, and made a powerful opening statement: they are never out of a game.

Trailing 4-1 late in the first period, the Wild charged back to tie the game in the opening seconds of the third period, pulling ahead on Landon Young’s eventual game-winner at the 3:14 mark and knocking off the Portland Winterhawks by a 6-5 count. Wenatchee did so against a perennial WHL power, coming off of its sixth consecutive season with 40 or more wins.

The Winterhawks gained the advantage early, when James Stefan broke down the ice for a shorthanded goal four minutes into the contest, followed by a goal on the doorstep from Kyle Chyzowski at the 9:52 mark. The Wild clipped the lead back to a goal at 11:15, as Oscar Lovsin slid one past Justen Maric from the slot for Wenatchee’s first WHL goal.

Marcus Nguyen’s one-timer made it a 3-1 game with 7:06 left in the period, and Diego Buttazzoni’s goal from the right-wing circle with 5:30 showing on the clock pushed the Portland lead to three goals. Steven Arp put the Wild on the comeback trail with 1:04 left in the period, banging in a point-blank one-timer from Miles Cooper.

Briley Wood dropped the lead to 4-3 just 32 seconds into the second, tapping in a pass from Evan Friesen, but Gabe Klassen doubled the lead once more on a penalty shot at the 6:21 mark of the period.

Portland would not score again – Lovsin scored his second goal of the night with 9:23 left on the second period clock, knocking in a one-timer of his own. Dawson Seitz got his first goal with the Wild on a one-timer of his own 48 seconds into the third, followed by Young’s game-winner on a rebound off of a shot from Kurt Rookes.

Lovsin and Cooper finished with three points apiece, while Young and Arp added assists to their scoring haul. Klassen finished with two assists on top of his second-period goal. Daniel Hauser wrapped up the night with 37 saves, earning his first win in a Wild uniform and his 79th career victory in the WHL. The penalty-killing units were exceptional in the contest, combining for a perfect 10-for-10 mark.

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Wenatchee returns to home ice Saturday for Faith & Community Night presented by Ag Supply, with free cowbells to the first 1,000 fans in the door. The opening puck drop against the Seattle Thunderbirds is slated for 6 p.m. with live coverage on NewsRadio 560 KPQ and FM 101.7


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