(Submitted by Alex Hoegler, BCHL Communications)
After a hectic win in Game 3, the Wenatchee Wild leaned on goaltender Chase Perry to backstop them as they tried to get back to the brand of hockey head coach Bliss Littler preaches.
Perry had a perfect outing, stopping all 29 shots he faced in a 5-0 Wild victory over the Langley Rivermen where he was named first star. This after a chaotic 7-6 overtime win the night before in which Perry came on in relief of Garrett Nieto.
Littler said in Game 4, the Wild were able to limit Langley’s scoring chances but it was his goaltender that was the key to victory.
“No doubt Chase Perry was the difference. Through 30 minutes, they could have had six goals,” Littler said. “(They) had unbelievable chances.”
Instead the Wild were the team with the lead at the game’s midway point. Matt Baker opened the scoring in the first period and Kyle Stephan notched his first of two in the middle frame, giving Wenatchee a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. The Wild took complete control in the third with goals by Blake Christensen, Kyle Stephan (shorthanded) and Brendan Harris.
The least-penalized team in the league, the Wild were able to frustrate the Rivermen’s top scorer in the regular season, Matthew Graham, who had four points through the first three games of the series. Graham was ejected in the third period for fighting.
“We’re a puck possession, skating, skilled team,” Littler said. “They can skate well. Their strategy no doubt is punishing hits and trying to wear us down by being very physical.”
After the Wild went from surrendering six goals in Game 3 to zero in Game 4, Perry said the improved defensive play was central for a turnaround.
“I think our (defence) corps played really well,” said the 2014 Detroit Red Wings draft pick. “We took care of the puck, we did a lot better than the night before and I think that was really the difference.”
With the Wild one win away from meeting the Mainland #1 Chilliwack Chiefs in the second round, Perry said his confidence level has improved at the right time.
“It’s going up, it’s a good time to go up. The playoffs (are) the most fun time of the year and it’s a good time to have a lot of confidence. Hopefully we’ll able to finish the job on Friday,” he said.
Wenatchee has a chance to wrap up the series with Game 5 set for 7 p.m. Friday at George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley.