West Division Semi-Finals, Game #5
Fresno Monsters 1 @ Wenatchee Wild 4 (Wenatchee wins series, 3-2)
By Ed Topoleski
First Wenatchee Wild winger Jacob Barber helped assure that there would be a Game 5 in his team’s NAHL West Division semifinal series against the Fresno Monsters with a 2-goal effort Thursday in the fourth game of the series. Then he dominated Game 5 of the series Sunday with a hat trick that led the Wild to a 4-1 win over the Monsters and earned them a spot in the West Division finals. The Wild trailed the Monsters in the series 2-1 after losing Game 2 (3-1) and Game 3 (2-1, OT). They rallied to earn a road victory in Game 4 (4-2) before clinching the series at home Sunday with a 4-1 win in Game 5.
After scoring the game-winning goal in Game 4, Barber staked the Wild to a 1-0 lead in Game 5 Sunday with 8:18 left in the first period when he tapped in a loose puck that headed in his direction on a deflection in front of the cage.
Monster Gordon Wells answered Barber’s goal less than three minutes later when he scored on a 3-on-2. Mitchell Snyder and Tyler Shipstad assisted.
Barber scored his second goal of the game, the eventual game-winner, with 5:08 left in the second period. After receiving a long sendaway pass from Nathan Flynn down the left wing, Barber skated in on goal on a breakaway. As he approached Fresno goalie Tomas Sholl, Barber faked a backhand move, stopped on a dime and scored on his forehand.
The Wild went up 3-1 with 3:10 left in the third period when Nicholas Kuchera scored on a deflection off of Joe Sullivan’s one-timer during a power play. Barber scored his hat trick goal with nine seconds left in regulation on an empty-netter. Goaltender Robert Nichols picked up the only assist.
Nichols made 17 saves on 18 shots for the Wild while Sholl stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced. Wenatchee scored one power-play goal on three chances while Fresno went 0-for-2 on its man-advantages.
The Wild will now wait to see who they will face in the West Division finals. The other West Division semifinal series between the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Kenai River Brown Bears is tied, 2-2. Game 5 of the series is Monday in Fairbanks. Regardless of who the Wild play in the divisional finals, Games 1-2 will be played in Wenatchee this Friday and Saturday (April 26-27).