Wild open NAHL playoffs with Game 1 win over Alaska
Alaska 1 @ Wenatchee 4 (Wenatchee leads series, 1-0) - Blake Saylor scored an early goal, Robert Nichols was his usual spectacular self and the Wenatchee Wild defeated the Alaska Avalanche 4-1 Thursday in Game 1 of the West Division semifinals at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee.
Saylor got the party started when he staked the Wild to 1-0 lead a little over two minutes into the contest on a whistling wrist shot from the inside edge of the near faceoff circle. Jerad Tafoya earned the lone assist on the goal, a reward for his line’s hard work in the offensive zone.
Wenatchee doubled its lead to 2-0 during its first power play opportunity of the game when Blake Roubos lit the lamp with less than four minutes remaining before the first intermission. The scoring sequence started at the Alaska blue line when Matt Cope made a touch pass to Trace Redmond who rushed into the zone down the left wing. After beating a defenseman wide, Redmond slid the puck above the goal crease to Roubos, who was crashing the net from the other wing, for a highlight reel goal.
The Avs cut the Wild lead in half 34 seconds into the second period on Evan Janssen’s power-play goal. Joe Schmitz and Kevin Novakovich assisted on what would be Alaska’s only goal of the contest. The Wild regained their 2-goal lead a little less than seven minutes later on their second power-play marker of the contest when Shawn Pauly scored from a sharp angle through goaltender Nick Kulmanovsky’s wickets. Chris Kerr and Tyler Rostenkowski assisted.
Parker Johnson tacked on an empty-netter with 40 seconds remaining in regulation to close out scoring. Rostenkowski picked up the lone assist.
Named the NAHL’s goaltender of the month for March Thursday afternoon, Nichols made 26 saves on 27 shots to earn his first NAHL playoff victory. Kulmanovsky made 15 saves on 18 shots.
Special teams were a factor. The Wild scored two power-play goals on five chances while the Avs went 1-for-4 on their man-advantage opportunities.
Rostenkowski finished the contest with two assists. Saylor, Roubos, Pauly and Johnson scored the Wild’s goals. Boxscore