Wild Return Home For Game 6 Battle WIth Cranbrook
PHOTO: Wenatchee Wild forward Parker Murray sets up in front of the Cranbrook net in a recent Wild home game. Murray scored a goal Friday for the fifth consecutive game, but the Bucks forced their BCHL playoff series back to Wenatchee with a 4-2 win at Western Financial Place. (Photo credit: Russ Alman/Digital Media Northwest)
By Austin Draude Wenatchee Wild Media Relations and Broadcast Manager
WENATCHEE, Wash. – Every time the Cranbrook Bucks pulled ahead Friday night, it seemed that the Wenatchee Wild eventually had just the right response.
In the end, though, one go-ahead goal proved to be one too many, as the Bucks forced their British Columbia Hockey League Interior Conference quarterfinal series back to Wenatchee with a 4-2 victory at Western Financial Place. The Wild will face the Bucks one final time on home ice, with a seventh game set for Tuesday in Cranbrook if necessary.
The hosts gained the lead 3:07 into the game, when Kellan Hjartarson collected a rebound at the edge of the crease and tossed it past Andy Vlaha to put the Bucks in front. They retained the lead for much of the period, but with 1:24 left, Ean Somoza intercepted a clearing attempt along the right-wing boards before feeding it to Parker Murray in the slot. His goal over Nathan Airey’s right shoulder evened the game at 1-1 going to the intermission.
Cranbrook took advantage of a loose puck high in their zone late in the second, and took the lead on a stretch pass to Cooper Boulanger, who deked the puck past Vlaha for a 2-1 lead with 3:05 on the second-period clock. Once again, though, the Wild had a response, as Garrett Szydlowski flicked a shot just under the crossbar to tie the contest again at the 54-second mark of the third.
Bauer Morrissey gave the Bucks the lead for a third time at 8:27 of the final period, and this time the lead would stick – his shot from the left half-wall evaded a pair of Wenatchee defenders before hitting the net just inside the back post to put Cranbrook in front to stay. Boulanger tallied again into the empty net with 47 seconds to play, pushing the Bucks to their final two-goal cushion.
Somoza led the Wild with a pair of assists, while Murray picked up a goal for the fifth consecutive game. Boulanger had two goals for the Bucks, while Morrissey ended the night with a goal and an assist. The penalty-killing units were exceptional again, with the two sides combining to kill off nine power plays.
“The penalty kills were good tonight,” said Wenatchee head coach Chris Clark. “That’s the way she goes – it’s a long series, things happen and we’ve got to reposition ourselves, refocus ourselves and we’re excited to play on home ice on Sunday. We came in here with the idea of finishing the series, and give Cranbrook credit – they pushed, they made some plays, and they scored some big goals at big times. They extended the series, and now it’s our job to go back and defend our home ice just the way they defended theirs.”
Wenatchee will instead look to close out the series on home ice Sunday evening, entering the contest with a three-games-to-two lead in their best-of-seven set. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m., with live coverage available on NewsRadio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV. To purchase tickets to Sunday’s game, call 509-888-7825 or buy online at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com.
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.