Sparked by a Dwight Helminen goal in the third period, the Kalamazoo Wings scored three unanswered in the final 20 minutes to defeat the South Carolina Stingrays 4-1 in game two of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals and in the process take a two games to none lead in the best-of-seven series.

For the first-time in six playoff games, an opponent was able to light the lamp before the K-Wings. Creating a screen in front of the net, Chris Higgins (1st) redirected a Paul Oreskovic slap shot 3:34 into the contest.

Going 1-for-4 on the power-play in the opening period, Kalamazoo capitalized on their third opportunity of the evening. Getting free at the right-circle, Trent Daavettila laid a centering pass to the blade of Darryl Bootland, who one-timed his third-goal of the playoffs. The goal extended his point streak to four games.

Neither team was able to score in the middle frame, through the Stingrays, who had no power chances in first period, had all three opportunities in the second. South Carolina generated only one of their six shots in the period on the power-play, including zero shots on goal during a span of 1:14 of a two-man advantage.

The third period remained a battle of two defensively solid teams as the time ticked below 10 minutes in regulation. However, Kalamazoo took advantage of a South Carolina mishap in the neutral zone with a four-on-two odd-man rush. After a shot on net, Helminen (3rd), from his knees, banged home the rebound to give the K-Wings a 2-1 lead.

Helminen’s eventual game-winner was is league-leading third of the playoffs and extended his point streak to six games.

Minutes later, Eric Kattelus (1st) rushed off the bench to pick a puck at center ice and danced his way to the slot, ripping a shot top shelf to add an insurance marker with just under three remaining in the contest.

With only 40 seconds remaining, Nick Sirota (4th) added an empty-netter to seal the victory for the K-Wings. Sirota, who finished the game with two points, upped his point streak to six games earlier in the contest with an assist on Helminen’s game-winner.

Kalamazoo and South Carolina will continue the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals with game three of the best-of-seven series this Wednesday, April 18th with a 7:05 p.m. encounter at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina.

If necessary, the K-Wings and Stingrays will return to Wings Stadium on Tuesday, April 24th for a 7 p.m. face-off in game six of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. During all second round home games, the K-Wings are offering special Fan Appreciation 25-cent hot dogs.

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

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