It was Dollar Beer and Hot Dog Night Wednesday at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee.
And while the crowd of 2,708 lined up for the cheap bevvies and tube steaks, they also went home happy after the Wild brushed off the Vernon Vipers 2-1 in B.C. Hockey League action.
Some fans were still searching for their seats when Lucas Sowder put Wenatchee on top just 19 seconds after the national anthem. Jasper Weatherby and Cooper Zech assisted on a wraparound goal that Sowder stuffed between the pads of former Wild goalie Anthony Yamnitsky. Sowder has nine snipes on the season.
The Vipers had a Grade A opportunity to level the score on a shorthanded breakaway by Niko Karamanis, but goalie Austin Park recorded a huge save that helped preserve the lead through 20 minutes.
Vernon tied things in the second period as Connor Marritt stepped into a shot a moment after starting his shift during a sequence of sustained Viper pressure. Marritt’s unassisted tally was his third of the year and it came on his mother Tracey’s birthday.
The Wild opened the third period with a 5-on-3 power play, but couldn’t convert and ended up 0-for-6 on the man advantage. Viper captain Jagger Williamson and Keyvan Mokhtari took penalties 16 seconds apart in the final minute of the second period. Mokhtari was ejected since it was Vernon’s second goaltender interference minor of the game. Williamson took the first at 3:12 of the opening stanza.
Midway through the third, Weatherby sent fans to their feet with a shot that rippled the outside of the net and falsely triggered the goal horn, but moments later he won a puck battle below the goal and slipped it out front where Slava Demin blasted it home for his fourth of the season. Demin is a B-rated NHL prospect.
Vernon called a timeout with 1:40 left and pulled Yamnitsky for a sixth attacker but the Wild held fast. Park earned his 10th win with a 20-save effort, while Yamnitsky made 23 saves and is 7-5-0-1. The Wild have earned a point in six straight games and moved to 16-7-1-1 for third place in the Interior Division.
“We didn’t generate the chances we needed,” said Williamson. “It was a werid game, really tight checking and even.”
The Vipers are 17-6-0-4 for second, one point back of Trail Smoke Eaters, 2-1 losers to Penticton Vees.