PHOTO: Wenatchee Wild forward David Hejduk waits for a pass along the boards in a home game against the Cranbrook Bucks. Hejduk scored the game-winner in the 13th round of a shootout Saturday, sending the Wild past Cranbrook 5-4. (Photo credit: Russ Alman/Digital Media Northwest)

By Austin Draude Wenatchee Wild Media Relations & Broadcast Manager

WENATCHEE, Wash. – With 20 minutes remaining in Saturday’s Wenatchee Wild contest at Town Toyota Center, it didn’t seem late-game heroics would even be necessary. The ending to the matchup between the Wild and the Cranbrook Bucks, though, ended up being one of the most dramatic in the team’s 15-year history. Cranbrook battled back from a three-goal deficit at the intermission, tying the game with 2:12 remaining, but the Wild prevailed 5-4 in a 13-round shootout and reset an 11-year-old record for the longest regular-season contest in team history.

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The first period was an even battle between the teams, with the Bucks posting 11 shots to Wenatchee’s 10. However, Ean Somoza’s shot from the right point was the only marker in the opening 20 minutes, giving the Wild a 1-0 advantage less than six minutes into the contest and eight seconds into the game’s second power play.

The second period saw Lucas Marshall come alive at the offensive end, snapping a left-point chance past Carter Capton just past the four-minute mark for a 2-0 advantage. Micah Berger would make it a 3-0 game on a transition goal from the right-wing faceoff circle at 8:16 of the period, but Cranbrook answered on a blue-line chance from Markus Yim just over two minutes later.

Marshall scored again with six minutes showing on the second-period clock, walking the puck to the left wing and sending it to the back half of the net to push the lead back out to three goals.

Cranbrook made its move in the third period, starting with Bryce Sookro’s transition goal 17 seconds out of the break. The Bucks halved the lead when Kellan Hjartarson deflected in a Willem Terwoord shot at the 6:56 mark of the third, and erased it entirely when Luke Pfoh sent a chance past Andy Vlaha on a power play at 17:48 of the final period.

The Bucks got all three looks at the net in the overtime, but the teams both enjoyed success in the first and 12th rounds of the shootout. Only David Hejduk’s forehand goal on Wenatchee’s 13th-round shot would make the final difference in the game.

“It was a great crowd again for the guys,” said Wild director of scouting and assistant coach Leigh Mendelson. “We had a great first 32 or 34 minutes and dropped off at the end of the second, and Andy (Vlaha) showed up in the third to keep us in it, and won it for us in overtime and the shootout.”

One night after notching four assists against the Merritt Centennials, Berger closed the night with a goal and two assists, while Marshall, Somoza and Mario Gasparini had two points apiece. Noah Quinn headlined the Cranbrook effort with three assists. Wenatchee enjoyed more success on the power play with a 2-for-5 mark, while the Bucks went 1-for-3.

The win pushes the Wild to 27-22-1-2 for the year, with the fourth- and seventh-place teams in the Interior Conference now separated by just a point, while Cranbrook dropped to 35-13-1-3. The Trail Smoke Eaters come to Wenatchee next Friday and Saturday to close the regular season, with Friday’s game set to begin at 7:05 p.m. Live coverage is available on NewsRadio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV.

Friday’s game is WAHA Night as the Wild celebrate youth hockey in Wenatchee, including the team’s final specialty jersey auction of the season.  Updated news and information on Wild hockey are always available through the team’s website and on the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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