In a game fitting of being played on Friday the 13th, the Kalamazoo Wings defeated the South Carolina Stingrays 6-4 in game one of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, in a contest that featured plenty of strange bounces and scoring chances, including a couple of tallies from Elgin Reid in a span of 14 seconds in the third period.
The first period got off to a flying start for Nick Sirota and company. Sirota notched his 3rd of the playoffs with a shot right on top of the crease with a nice feed from Kory Karlander 3:49 into the opening frame. Sirota pushed his point streak to five games with the goal, while Karlander extended his point streak to four games with the helper.
Later on in the period at the 9:26 mark, South Carolina found the back of the net when Maxime Lacroix remained hot with his 5th goal in as many playoff games for the Stingrays.
Kalamazoo answered back only 1minute and 22 seconds later when Sirota (4th) tallied his second of the period with a wrist shot from the tops of the circles. Karlander and Darren Archibald both were credited with their 2nd assist of the frame.
South Carolina would again respond with another tying goal. Andrew Cherniwchan (1st) deflected home a shot from the point taken by Dustin Stevenson that found its way past Kalamazoo goaltender Riley Gill 17:26 into the first.
In the dying minutes of the opening period, Trent Daavettila (1st) scored to give Kalamazoo the 3-2 lead heading into the intermission. Flying towards the net, Daavettila batted a Dwight Helminen rebound past Rob Madore. The assist extend Helminen’s point streak to five games.
Keeping a one goal lead for a majority of the second period, Kalamazoo lengthened their advantage late in the stanza. Skating up the up the left wing, Justin Taylor sent a centering pass between the circles to a cutting Dustin Cloutier, who deflected the puck past Madore 17:57 into the period.
The third period was scoreless until the 11:26 mark when Reid (2nd) ripped a shot from the point that found its way past the goal line.
Following a South Carolina time out, it only took Reid (4th) 14 seconds to notch his second-goal of the contest. A carbon copy of his previous, Reid took a pass from Daavettila and fired a shot that hit a body in front of the net and found its way into the twine. The goal gave Kalamazoo a 6-2 lead with 8:20 remaining.
Following the goal, Stingrays pulled Madore for Billy Sauer, who had two saves in relief.
But not to be outdone, South Carolina’s Billy Ryan (1st) scored 10 seconds after Reid as he skated right into the slot and fired a slap shot past Gill bringing the score to 6-3.
The comeback effort continued when Michael Dorr (1st) scored from the high slot that brought the Stingrays to within two goals.
Gill (4-1) closed out the game with 31 saves, while Madore (2-1) made 22 saves in defeat.
The K-Wings and Stingrays will continue the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals with game two of the best-of-seven series tomorrow, Saturday, April 14th with a 7:30 p.m. face-off at Wings Stadium. Fans can purchase hot dogs for all Kalamazoo’s semi-final home games for only 25-cents and the first 500 fans for game two will receive a FREE Rally Towel, courtesy of the United Kennel Club.
Tickets for the K-Wings round one playoff games are $16.05 and $19.95 for adults, $15.05 for seniors (62 years and older) and military (with proper ID) and only $10.05 for kids ages 12 and under. Fans can save money by purchasing K-Wings single game tickets in advance because tickets purchased on the day of a game increase by $1.
Submitted by Mike Modugno