By Kirk Estes (Photo-Tom Williams, Wenatchee Wild)
The Tornado limped into Wenatchee, WA after dropping three games in Fairbanks. With Amarillo having lost to Corpus Christi 3 "“ 2 earlier in the evening, Texas had an opportunity to regain sole possession of second in the South Division with a victory over the Wild.
Nathan Sliwinski opened the scoring against his ex mates at 4:34 into the first period to stake the Tornado to an early lead. Jack Prince threw the puck to the point off the end boards to Donald Olivieri for a onetimer that Sliwinski tipped in front. The middle of the period saw a lot of back and forth play before Olivieri was hit with a tripping penalty at 9:46. With just four seconds left in the man advantage Carl-Johan Sjogren put the puck past Jimmy Kruger to knot the score at one. The only assist on the play went to Kyle Huson. Wenatchee took the lead late in the period at 18:32 with a goal off the stick of DJ Vandercook with Matt Cope notching the assist.
The Tornado pulled even at 6:15 of the second when David Riggatti flipped the puck out of the near corner to Rock Einersen behind the Wild cage. Einersen found JD Howard cruising down the slot with a backhand centering pass for Howard"™s 21st goal of the season. At 18:08 Jackson Leef took a pass from Sliwinski in the far corner and walked it off the wall as Prince dropped anchor in front of Brandon Jaeger, Leef used the screen to blister a shot over the Wild net minder.
Wenatchee had the only goal of the third period coming at the 10:36 mark on the power play this time just 12 seconds before the man advantage was to expire. Hunter Brown worked the puck from the far point to Zach Frye for a one timer at the top of the near faceoff circle. Tyler Hope cut across the mouth of the goal crease to redirect the puck past Kruger. At 19:43 Olivieri took a checking from behind penalty to prevent a Wenatchee rush on Kruger so the Tornado had to scramble to close out the period with the score tied.
In the overtime period the Tornado killed off 1:43 of the 4 on 3 Wenatchee power play then just missed scoring late in the extra frame to go to a shootout. In the shootout Michael DiPuma was able to put the puck past Kruger as the first shooter for Wenatchee. Howard would tie it up as the third shooter for Texas, then Ralfs Freibergs took the lead as the Tornado"™s sixth shooter while Kruger was able to shake off the early score by Wenatchee to stop the next five Wild shooters to ensure the victory.
With the victory the Tornado now set three points behind idle Topeka and two points ahead of Amarillo. However, both the Roadrunners and Bulls have two games in hand over the Tornado.
On the evening the Tornado were outshot by Wenatchee 40 "“ 32 and Wenatchee converted 2 of 3 power play opportunities while Texas was 0 "“ 3. With his second period goal JD Howard has racked up 7 goals and 8 points in his last 7 games to pace the offense while Jimmy Kruger picked up his 16th win on the season.