WENATCHEE – The Wenatchee Wild have had their share of comeback victories this season, including one on the road in early October against the Prince George Cougars. The Cougars made the most of a comeback bid Sunday at Town Toyota Center, tying the game after the Wild built a 3-0 lead, but Evan Friesen potted a shootout winner for the Wild in a 5-4 decision to knock off the top team in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference. The Wild wrapped up January with a 4-4-1 record for the month, earning wins in two of the three games this past weekend.
Briley Wood picked up his second hat trick of the season, starting at 3:32 with a drive up the right wing – he tucked the puck past Ty Young to put the Wild ahead 1-0, and sent the Wild to the locker room with a 2-0 advantage thanks to a pass from Kenta Isogai on an odd-man rush with 15.4 seconds left in the stanza.
With the Wild on the power play, Wood was ready for a setup pass from Isogai below the goal line, but the pass found Miles Cooper for a carom in front instead – his goal at 8:16 of the second pushed the Wenatchee lead out to three goals. In a span of 16 seconds, though, Prince George knocked the lead back to a single goal – Hunter Laing’s shot from the left wing careened off of Matteo Danis’s face and past Wild netminder Daniel Hauser at 9:43 of the second, and Carlin DeZainde’s wrist shot at 9:59 pushed the score to 3-2.
The Cougars tied things up at 3:14 of the third, as Riley Heidt led a shorthanded rush to the Wild net – however, Wood completed the hat trick with a shot from the right-wing circle just 56 seconds later for another power play marker and a 4-3 lead. DeZainde’s sharp-angle shot tied the game with 1:11 remaining in regulation, but Friesen’s goal in the fifth round of the shootout was the clincher for the Wild.
“Obviously, we’ll take the two points. Sometimes you have to go all 65 minutes,” said assistant coach Andrew Sarauer. “We would have liked to lock it down in 60 there, but they were pushing the pace at the end and squeaked one in. Give the guys credit – this is a really good hockey team that we faced tonight, and they’ve had our number all season.”
Wood added an assist to his haul for the night to extend his point streak to a career-best 11 games, while Cooper posted a goal and an assist. Friesen and Isogai both picked up a pair of assists to extend lengthy point-scoring streaks of their own, as Isogai eclipsed the 70-point plateau for the year. Hauser exited with an injury early in the third period, taking a no-decision with 27 saves, while Brendan Gee earned his 10th win of the year thanks to 14 saves in relief and the Wild climbed to 27-16-4-0 for the year.
Heidt became the Cougars’ all-time scoring leader thanks to a goal and two assists, while DeZainde notched his two goals. Ty Young was hit for the loss in a 24-save performance. Wenatchee finished 2-for-5 on the power play, and had its first perfect penalty-killing night since January 3, stopping all five Prince George chances as the Cougars dropped to 31-14-0-2.
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