Saturday, May 18, 2024

Unger stops 35 as Moose Jaw shuts out Wild Sunday, 3-0

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WENATCHEE – Saturday night, the Wenatchee Wild found themselves in the Western Hockey League playoffs thanks to a regulation loss by the Tri-City Americans. On Sunday evening, Moose Jaw Warriors goaltender Jackson Unger kept them from getting into the back of the net.

Unger made 35 saves to close out an eight-game Moose Jaw road trip as the Wild took a 3-0 loss at Town Toyota Center, ending an 11-game regular-season slate against Eastern Conference opposition. Wenatchee won four of the five at home, but were never able to solve Unger, as the Warriors climbed to 40-19-0-2 on the season. The Wild dropped to 31-25-4-0 with the loss, including a 7-4 mark against the eastern half of the WHL.

Despite facing a roster with seven National Hockey League draft picks, the Wild more than held their own in the first 20 minutes, allowing only a goal from Jagger Firkus at 11:15 of the opening stanza. Firkus banged in a long rebound off a transition shot from Kalem Parker, but Brendan Gee turned away all 14 remaining chances from Moose Jaw in the first period.

With the Wild serving a too-many-men penalty in the second period, Matthew Savoie drove the net, but his shot was pushed out front for Atley Calvert to put away on the second chance. The Warriors made it 2-0 at 7:28 of the period, and used a backdoor pass on an odd-man rush to make it 3-0 at the 10:26 mark, when Firkus returned a pass to Brayden Yager to tap in on the left wing.

Wenatchee got a pair of power plays in the final period, and out-shot their visitors 16-4 in the final 20 minutes, but could not beat Unger before the final horn. Gee finished with 30 saves in the loss, while Unger earned his 33rd win of the season. Firkus had a hand in every Moose Jaw goal with a marker and two assists, while Savoie finished with an assist in his return to Wenatchee. The Wild went 0-for-2 on the power play, but wiped away five of the Warriors’ six power plays on the night.

“I thought [Unger] seemed to stay really calm in net. He’s positionally sound, and the guys had a bit of a push on late, but every puck he saw, he grabbed and he didn’t seem nervous or scrambling at all,” said assistant coach Andrew Sarauer. “He played really well tonight – full credit to him, he calmed the fort whenever we had some offensive looks.”

Yager’s goal Sunday was his 50th of the season and 100th in his WHL career, while Parker earned a 100th career point in his own right. Wenatchee defenseman Graham Sward saw a seven-game point streak end, while leading Wild scorer Kenta Isogai’s four-game run also concluded with the loss.

Six of Wenatchee’s final eight regular-season games will be played on the road, starting with Friday’s visit to the Tri-City Americans – Friday’s game will be the last of eight between the teams this season, with the opening puck drop at Toyota Center in Kennewick slated for 7:05 p.m.

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