“It was the first goal the kids set out for, to win the division,” said Wenatchee Wild head coach Bliss Littler.
The Wild checked off the first item on their to-do list thanks to another dramatic come-from-behind victory that was made possible thanks to Butzow’s OT game-winner and a 2-goal third period by Jono Davis (La Verne, Calif.).
Butzow’s overtime game-winner started with a faceoff win in the offensive zone by Max McHugh (Edgewood, Wash.). After the Wild cycled the puck around the boards, McHugh slipped the puck to Butzow through the high slot. Butzow did the rest, making one move before scoring on a backhander from the far side of the cage. Chris Kerr (Penticton, British Columbia) also assisted on the game-winning goal.
“It was a great pass by McHugh and, wow, what a great backhand by Butzow,” Littler said.
Butzow might not have had the chance to score the game-winning goal in overtime without a tremendous third period by Davis, who played the lead role in erasing a 2-goal deficit with a pair of goals.
Davis’ first third-period goal came 4:48 into the final frame during a power play. After receiving a sendaway pass from Jacob Barber (Dardenne Prairie, Mo.), Davis beat Fresno goalie Tomas Sholl, with a defender on his tail, with a top shelf backhander.
Davis’ second goal of the third period, scored with 5:27 left in regulation, came on a point-blank forehand shot that beat Sholl glove side. Kerr set up the goal with a pass from the left wing, finding Davis all alone in the low slot. McHugh also assisted.
Wenatchee led 2-0 after the first period Friday on goals by Chris Jones (Normandy Park, Wash.) and Evan Schmidbauer (Surrey, British Columbia). Jones scored from the slot with 8:15 left in the first period on a pass from McHugh from behind the end line. Jono Davis (La Verne, Calif.) also assisted.
Schmidbauer gave the Wild a 2-goal edge with 5:22 remaining before the first intermission when he tapped the puck into the net after Sholl lost the handle on the puck after the Wild dumped it into the offensive zone. Nicholas Kuchera (Eagan, Minn.) and Jones earned the assists.
The Monsters owned the second period, managing to claim a 4-2 lead on a 4-goal second period. Chase Sisk scored two of Fresno’s second-period markers while Karl Anderson and Kyle Sucher added one goal apiece.
“We had some things go against us in the second, and we weren’t very good,” Littler said. “I think the guys challenged themselves to get back into it. You’re top guys had to do it, and they did.”
Davis led the Wild with two goals and an assist (3 points) while McHugh notched a playmaker with three assists. In addition, Jones scored a goal and added an assist in the first period (2 points) while Kerr notched two helpers.
Sisk led the Monsters with two goals, both of which were scored during their 4-goal second period.
Nick Schmit (Fargo, N.D.) earned the win. He made stopped all 11 shots he faced in 30 minutes and seven seconds of work. Sholl suffered the loss. He made 25 saves on 30 shots.
Wenatchee scored one power-play goal on four chances while Fresno went 0-for-3 on its man-advantages.
The Wild (39-14-6) and Monsters (17-36-6) will close out the regular season Saturday at the Selland Arena in Fresno, Calif. Faceoff is set for 7:35 p.m. For a small fee, fans can watch the game live by logging on to www.FASTHockey.com.
The Wild (first seed) and Monsters (fourth seed) will square off in the NAHL West Division quarterfinals. The first two games of the 5-game series will be played at the Town Toyota Center on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13. Both games are set to begin at 7:05 p.m. Call 509.888.PUCK (7825) to order tickets.