Murray Repeats 4 Goal Performance, Wenatchee Takes 3-1 Series Lead
PHOTO: Wenatchee Wild forward Parker Murray smiles as he heads past the bench after scoring one of his four goals Wednesday night. Murray posted a four-goal game for the second straight night, helping the Wild defeat the Cranbrook Bucks, 4-2. (Photo credit: Russ Alman/Digital Media Northwest)
By Austin Draude Wenatchee Wild Media Relations and Broadcast Manager
WENATCHEE, Wash. – The mantra of the postseason is always “survive and advance,” but Wenatchee Wild forward Parker Murray has done more than just survive so far in his team’s Interior Conference quarterfinal series against the Cranbrook Bucks.
One night after setting a new team record with four goals in a playoff game, Murray matched it with four more Wednesday, pushing the Wild to a 4-0 lead on the way to a 4-2 victory over the Bucks at Town Toyota Center, and helping his team climb in front three games to one in their best-of-seven series. His two-day stretch has rewritten the team record books, making him the first Wild player in 14 years to post more than one hat trick in a single postseason and shattering the team record for the most goals in a single playoff series.
Murray’s first goal came on a rebound 9:33 into the game, collecting a second chance on Cade Littler’s left-wing shot and stuffing it past Nathan Airey to put the Wild in front. That sequence brought the Wild their first two shots on the net after Cranbrook posted the first six shots on goal in the game, and ended the first Wild power play of the night.
Wenatchee had its biggest scoring outburst of the night in the second period, with Murray scoring his second on a wrist shot from the edge of the slot just past the six-minute mark of the stanza. That shot came in transition, with just three seconds left on a Wild power play, making it a 2-0 game.
He collected the hat trick at 8:11 of the period, when Ean Somoza slipped a pass back to the slot for a quick one-timer and a 3-0 Wenatchee lead, and ended his scoring run with 9:09 to go in the period on a one-timer from the right-wing faceoff circle. Bryce Sookro scored with 8:21 left in the second period to cut into the lead, and a right-wing one-timer from Noah Quinn with 9:14 to go in the third put the Bucks back within two goals. However, that was as close as Cranbrook would get the rest of the way.
“Opportunistic is a good word for it,” said Wenatchee assistant coach Leigh Mendelson. “If you put the puck on [Parker’s] stick in good spots, he can score, and we found him at some opportune times. They took it to us pretty good the first 10 minutes, and playoffs are all about who gets hot and who gets streaky. We got good efforts from a lot of guys tonight, and we blocked a lot of shots on the penalty kill. All around, it was a good effort in terms of sacrificing for the win.”
The special-teams showing was another impressive one for Wenatchee, wiping away all four Bucks power plays while going 2-for-3 on the man-advantage. Somoza had three assists, while Andy Vlaha earned his third win of the postseason with 31 saves. The Bucks finished with a 33-18 shots-on-goal advantage, including a 12-4 margin in the first period and a 10-4 gap in the final 20 minutes.
The win guarantees the Wild at least one more home game in the postseason, either in a Game 6 matchup with the Bucks Sunday evening or in an Interior Conference semifinal series against the top-seeded Penticton Vees, who closed out their quarterfinal set with the Trail Smoke Eaters Wednesday night. Should Sunday’s game in Wenatchee be necessary, the opening puck drop would be scheduled for 6 p.m., with live coverage available on NewsRadio 560 KPQ and BCHL TV.
Playoff packages for the full Wild playoff run, presented locally by Windermere Real Estate, remain available, and 2023-24 season tickets are also on sale now. Updated news and information on Wild hockey are always available through the team’s website and on the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.