KALAMAZOO – If the 5,093 students in attendance for Wednesday mornings Education Day game at Wings Stadium learned one lesson it was to never give up until the final second.
Trailing by a score of 5-2 early in the third period to the Cincinnati Cyclones (29-21-2-7), the Kalamazoo Wings (32-21-2-5) put the petal to medal scoring three unanswered goals to force the game into overtime.
Eric Kattelus scored the game tying goal with just 2.4 seconds remaining in the game, against his former team, to give the K-Wings a chance at victory.
“I think it might have deflected off of him (a Cyclone player) and into the net,” Kattelus said, “but I knew I had to get something to the net. I knew we didn’t have much time left, a little tight, but I know I got it in.”
Kattelus, who played 25 games with the Cyclones last season, felt a little satisfaction scoring on his former team. “I know a lot of the guys who are still on the team,” Kattelus said, “so it’s always nice to get in there and twist the knife a bit.”
K-Wings coach Nick Bootland said that Kattelus has been the go to guy the past several games. “In Florida he was our best player. He was our most consistent player for three games. It doesn’t matter where I put him right now, he effective.”
Kory Karlander put the K-Wings on the board first with a power play goal, his 15th tally of the season. Back to back goals by Mathieu Aubin put the Cyclones in the lead after the first period. Aubin has scored 10 goals against the K-Wings this season.
Darren Archibald scored midway into the second period to knot the game at 2-2, but the Cyclones responded quickly.
Just 13 seconds later, Michael Pelech scored the go-ahead goal and Mathew Sisca added another just over a minute later for a 4-2 lead.
“I really thought in the second period that we had six shifts in a row where we had a lot of momentum when we made it a 2-2 game,” K-Wings coach Nick Bootland said.
Bootland pointed out that a few glaring mistakes led to the two Cyclones goals, but said that those mistakes can be easily fixed.
“The guys who made those mistakes are key players for us and you know those guys will see it tomorrow and they will see the film and they (the mistakes) will be fixed,” Bootland said.
The Cyclones opened the third period with a quick goal by David Leaderer to make it a 5-3 games.
After Cyclones net minder Brian Foster misplayed the puck behind the net, Brian Haczyk capitalized on the opportunity to score his 15th goal of the year and eighth against the Cyclones to make it a 5-3 game.
There was a delay as the referee, linesman and goal judge conferred as to whether to award the goal to the K-Wings or not.
“I heard someone say that the whistle might have been blown before it went it,” Haczyk said. “But I was standing right there on top of the puck and I saw it cross the line before the whistle. I knew it was a goal.”
An Elgin Reid shot midway through the period brought the K-Wings to within one goal, setting up the last second goal by Kattelus.
With momentum on their side, Sam Ftorek scored the game winner early in overtime for the 6-5 win over the Cyclones.
“I was just hoping it was someone on our team that got the game winner,” Ftorek said. “It was a great way to end the day.”
“The goalie thought that Trent (Daavettila) was going to keep the puck and he (Trent) made a great drop pass and no one was there so I just had to hit the net and I’m glad I did.”
With the win, the K-Wings lead over the Cyclones in the North Division sits at four points. Remaining home for two games this weekend against the Chicago Express, another division foe, the K-Wings hope to build upon their lead.
“We know the importance of this stretch run and how many games we have at home and we have to use that to our advantage,” Bootland said. “You look at those 5,000 screaming kids out there today; they were certainly on our side no matter what the score was. “It was loud and boisterous and it was hard to communicate for everybody on both teams. It was exciting and we need to use our fan base, that sixth attacker for us, to our advantage.”