March 31, 2018
by Arch Ecker
The Wenatchee Wild and Trail Smoke Eaters traded chances, and traded goals for the first two and a half periods of Game Two on Saturday night before the Wild cemented a 4-2 victory to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven BCHL Interior Conference Final Series.
Unlike Game 1 where the visitors scored first, it was Wenatchee who lit the lamp to take a 1-0 lead when Josh Arnold pokechecked a puck deep into the Trail zone, where it was hunted down by defenseman Cooper Zech. Zech looped around behind the net and zipped it out front to Zak Galambos who buried the one-timer with 59.6 seconds left in the opening period.
The second period saw each side with a smattering of decent opportunities, but it was the Smoke Eaters who cashed in as a Seth Barton point shot deflected past Austin Park with 17 seconds remaining in the middle frame.
Wenatchee regained the lead at 1:15 of the third period when Jasper Weatherby tipped an AJ Vanderbeck shot up over Trail goalie Adam Marcoux. Trail found the equalizer on a Conner Welsh shot from the left wing that eluded Park low on the glove side at 4:49, and threated to take their first lead of the night when Vanderbeck took an interference call midway through the period.
A minute into the penalty kill, Sam Morton stepped out of the zone with the puck and considered dumping it and peeling off on a line change, but with Weatherby driving up the right side, he elected to saucer a pass to his second-year linemate and drive to the net where he redirected the return pass for a shorthanded goal that ended up being the game winner.
Weatherby capped the evening with an empty net goal at 18:54 as Wenatchee secured the 4-2 win to go up 2-0 in the series and remain perfect at home this postseason. Austin Park stopped 15 of 17 shots, backstopping Wenatchee’s sixth consecutive postseason win.
The Wild and Smoke Eaters head north to Cominco Arena in Trail, BC, Canada for Games 3 and 4 of the Interior Conference Final at 7:00 this Tuesday and Wednesday.
If needed, Game 5 will be in Wenatchee on Friday, April 6. In the Coastal Conference Final Saturday, Prince George defeated Powell River 5-1 to go up 2-0 in that series.