The Wenatchee Wild defeated the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-2 in Game 1 of the Interior Division final at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee on Friday.
The Smoke Eaters cashed in on a Wenatchee defensive zone turnover in the first period that allowed Levi Glasman to score unassisted and put the visitors on top 1-0.
But the second period saw the Wild come out strong, tying the game on a heavy Nathan Iannone shot in stride from the right wing at 1:59. Wenatchee took the lead just past the midway point of the period after a strong Jasper Weatherby forecheck turned into a Lucas Sowder opportunity that he was able to spin home as he was falling forward across the slot area.
Less than a minute later, Slava Demin powered a shot into the net from the left circle to give the Wild a 3-1 lead. Just over a minute later, an odd sequence led to a Trail goal that closed the gap to 3-2. Clearing the defensive zone, Cooper Zech lifted the puck off the glass out to the neutral zone, where it was batted back in by what appeared to be a Ross Armour high stick, then was collected by Braeden Tuck and fired into the net off the shoulder of Austin Park.
Unrattled, Wenatchee regained their 2-goal advantage when Zak Galambos ripped a one-timer from the left circle on the power play that had Trail goalie Adam Marcoux moving from his left to his right and the Wild led 4-2 at the end of the explosive second period, outshooting the Smokies 26-12 through 40 minutes.
Trail pulled Marcoux for the extra skater late, and subsequent zone clears both went off the goalpost before the Wild’s A.J. Vanderbeck sunk one into the net. Austin Park was calm and solid on the night, stopping 18 of 20 shots for the win.
The Wild and Smoke Eaters meet Saturday night in Game 2 of the Interior Conference Final at 7:05 in Town Toyota Center. In the Coastal Conference Final, Prince George defeated Powell River 2-1 to go up 1-0 in that series.
-Coutesy of Wenatchee Wild.