Lightning Zap Wild In First Game of 2024

After going into the holiday break with an overtime win over the Pembina Valley Hawks, that momentum could not be carried over into the new year with the Winnipeg Wild falling 3-1 to the Interlake Lightning on the road Wednesday night. The Wild got many chances on the power play, but could not convert and struggled with the Lightning’s forecheck all evening.

The first period in this game saw the Wild with a chance on the very first rush of the game, but could not convert. The next seven minutes were quite even, but the better chances came from the Lightning. Then Interlake surrendered the first of four penalties on the night, and the first of three in the period. This gave the Wild a chance to try and control the game, but they could not find the back of the net, despite good effort. Then, just three minutes later the Wild had another opportunity after a tripping call went to the opposing team. Once again, momentum was generated, but the Wild still could not find a breakthrough. The remainder of the period saw the Lightning take control of the game with their forecheck, causing many Wild turnovers and generating good chances of their own. That third penalty of the period came with 1:12 remaining, which the Wild did their best to keep throwing pucks at the net and still to no avail. The first period ended with the game being scoreless.

The second period began with the Wild still on the power play, but soon after it ended, the Lightning seized all control of the game. Once again, the Interlake forecheck seemed to cause problems for the Wild, causing turnovers and chances at the other end. While the Wild held firm in their own end, the deadlocked score was finally broken. Lucas Spencer of the Lightning got a hold of the puck at their own blue line and fired an outlet pass to Ian Buors, who scored on the breakaway, giving Interlake a 1-0 lead. The Wild did have an opportunity to turn the tides back in their favour with a four minute double minor to Drew Russell for Head Contact. Unfortunately, while the Wild had many chances towards the back half of the man advantage, they still could not find a way past Lightning goaltender Alex Myers. Then with just 1:29 remaining in the second period, Blake Farthing of the Lightning won a faceoff back to Talon Hogg, who took a shot from the point that found it’s way past Dawson Groen to make it 2-0 Lightning. A back breaker of a goal that kept all the momentum in Interlake’s corner. For much of the period, especially after the four minute power play, the Wild continued to struggle with the Interlake forecheck and had trouble of breaking out of their own zone.

The story for the third period was that, every single time the Wild attempted to generate any sort of momentum, the Lightning had an answer for it. Just under three and a half minutes into the third, the Wild finally got on the board after converting on a three on one. The initial shot from Gino Cotroneo was saved, but the rebound found William Marceus, who buried it into the back of the net to make it 2-1. But just two minutes later, a puck rimmed around the boards finds its way to the blue line in the Wild end and another Talon Hogg point shot found its way through to make it 3-1 Lightning. While it may have been deflected, the result was still the same. After the Interlake goal, the Wild continued to push, but their efforts were met with pushback from the Lightning. With seven minutes left in the game, the Wild found themselves at the edge of their own zone, and turned the puck over, which ended up finding the back of the net. After discussion from the referees, they determined that Interlake was offside and the goal would not count, keeping the score at 3-1 and the Wild firmly in the game. But even after pulling the goalie with 1:50 left to play, the Wild could not convert with the extra skater on the ice and they fell 3-1 to the Lightning.

This was a tough game for the Wild, who had issues dealing with the Interlake forecheck that caused turnovers, generated chances for the Lightning and kept the Wild in their own zone. It was a valiant effort from the visiting side who put up 43 shots to the Lightning’s 27. While most of those shots came while they were on the power play, the Wild still made it a hard night for Alex Myers.

The Winnipeg Wild are back in action Friday night as they are on the road again to take on the Winnipeg Bruins in game number four of a five game road trip. The contest begins at 6:45 inside Southdale Community Centre.