The Cranbrook Bucks travelled south of the border to play their first-ever regular season game against the B.C. Hockey League’s lone American franchise, the Wenatchee Wild, on Thursday night.
Both teams came in hot of late, as the Bucks were 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, while Wenatchee was 6-3-1.
The first period was relatively quiet as the teams felt each other out, and there was no scoring.
In fact, the only ink on the scoresheet in the opening 20 minutes was a minor penalty to Cranbrook’s Brendan Rogers.
The Bucks were able to kill that penalty off, and the scoreless first period came to an end with the visitors carrying an 8-6 shots advantage.
The pace of play began to pick up a bit in period two, with the Bucks looking like they had found their legs in the first game of the road trip.
Cranbrook failed to capitalize on some early momentum, leaving the door open for Wenatchee to score first.
At 6:13 of the second stanza, Wild defenseman Travis Bohnet jumped up in the play and buried a rebound for his first BCHL goal, putting the hosts up 1-0.
Just 43 seconds later, Wenatchee’s leading point-getter Ean Somoza found a loose puck high in the slot and fired it home to make it 2-0 Wild.
The Bucks would get an answer from their new-look second line, as Noah Quinn sniped one home at 11:45 to get Cranbrook on the board.
Quinn’s 14th goal of the season was assisted by his line-mates Luke Pfoh and Kellan Hjartarson, and the Bucks were within a goal at 2-1.
That would be it for scoring in the middle frame, as the Bucks outshot Wenatchee 17-13 in the period but were down a goal heading into the third.
The Wild started the final frame on their second powerplay of the night, and it didn’t take them long to capitalize with the man-advantage.
Just 34 seconds into the third, Wenatchee native Cade Littler scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season to put the Wild up 3-1.
The game then settled in to a swift pace with the Bucks needing a couple of goals to get back on even terms.
They would get within one at 12:40 of the third when the top-line connected on a goal for the second straight game.
Liam Hansson found the back of the net for his second goal of the season, assisted by Johnny Johnson and Tyson Dyck, to make it a 3-2 game.
From there, the Bucks pressed hard for an equalizer, once again outshooting Wenatchee 12-11 in the final 20 minutes.
Despite some late pressure and chaos in the Wild zone, Cranbrook could not find the net as time ticked down on a tight hockey game.
After suffering the 3-2 loss in Wenatchee, the Bucks are now 3-2-1 in January, as they have alternated wins and losses since New Year’s Day.
It was the first of eight meetings between the two teams this season, and they will do it all over again on Friday night.
Here is a look at the Bucks season series against Wenatchee, from our schedule by opponent page:
Eight games (0-1-0-0)
- Jan. 13: vs Wenatchee (Postponed)
- Jan. 20: @ Wenatchee (3-2 L)
- Jan. 21: @ Wenatchee (8pm)
- Feb. 2: @ Wenatchee (7pm)
- Feb. 25: vs Wenatchee (7pm)
- Feb. 26: vs Wenatchee (7pm)
- Mar. 5: @ Wenatchee (7pm)
- Mar. 6: @ Wenatchee (7pm)
Some of the game highlights can be seen below, courtesy of the BCHL on Twitter.
Post-game recaps from the Bucks website can be found here, and from Wenatchee’s website here.