WENATCHEE – The Wenatchee Wild offense is going through a cold snap to start the month of February. While the scoring hasn’t been there, the effort certainly has, especially in Wednesday’s home tilt at Town Toyota Center against the Tri-City Americans.
Wenatchee peppered Ams goaltender Lukas Matecha with 54 shots, the organization’s most in a game in two years, but Matecha turned away 53 of those shots in a 4-1 Tri-City victory. The win, Matecha’s 11th of the season, was the first for a road team in the head-to-head series this year, and a new season-best for the first-year Americans netminder.
Thomas Tien put the visitors ahead first, tipping in a shot from Jackson Smith with 7:13 left in the first period, and Jake Sloan hit the top corner of the net for a 2-0 Tri-City lead at 8:44 of the second period. Wenatchee got one of those goals back early in the third, when Evan Friesen ripped a wrist shot down the slot and past Matecha at the 4:11 mark to cut the lead to 2-1.
Tri-City added a second goal from Sloan two minutes later on a power play, cleaning up a rebound in front of the net off an initial shot from Smith at the right point. Parker Bell connected with Brandon Whynott on a one-timer with 7:05 remaining to stretch the Americans’ lead out once more.
“We’re going through a tough stretch right now, where pucks aren’t bouncing our way,” said associate head coach Chris Clark. “Every team goes through it – you play 68 games, every team’s going to go through something like this. Unfortunately, we’re going through it right now, but there are a lot of good things we can build on from tonight’s game.”
Friesen saw his point streak climb to 11 consecutive games thanks to his 19th goal of the season, while Josh Fluker and Jonas Woo each picked up assists. Daniel Hauser took the loss, making 20 saves on 24 Tri-City shots. Wenatchee fired off 24 of its 54 shots in the third period alone, and won the battle at the faceoff dot, 33-19.
Sloan finished with two goals, while Smith and Jordan Gavin each picked up a pair of assists. Tri-City finished 1-for-2 on the power play, and ended the night with a perfect mark on three penalty kills. Wenatchee ended the night at 27-19-4-0 for the season, while the Americans bumped their record to 19-28-2-1, a point shy of the Spokane Chiefs for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Wenatchee welcomes the Everett Silvertips on Friday for “Knight at the Wild,” presented by Wenatchee Valley College, including the team’s annual Diaper Toss – this year’s Diaper Toss items will benefit the Women’s Service League of NCW. The opening puck drop at Town Toyota Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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