KALAMAZOO – After ending the year on a high note by defeating the visiting Elmira Jackals (20-13-0-0) 5-3 on New Year’s Eve, the Jackals turned the tables on the Kalamazoo Wings (12-17-2-1) Saturday night, handing them their first loss of 2016 by a score of 5-4.
The K-Wings were led by Tanner Sorenson, who scored two goals on the night.
The Jackals took advantage of sustained offensive-zone pressure to spring out to an early lead. Chris Langkow lifted a blue line wrister on net which was initially stopped by the blocker of Joel Martin, but the rebound found the blade of Garrett Ladd, who buried his second of the campaign.
Elmira continued to dictate the pressure in the offensive zone in the first period and opened their lead to two goals. Much like the first goal, a blue line shot found the pad of Martin, but this time the rebound was knocked in by Colin Jacobs, who had snuck behind the Kalamazoo defense.
Just 19 seconds into the middle frame, Sorenson cut the Kalamazoo deficit to one. Off a neutral zone faceoff, Sorenson snuck in behind the Jackals’ defense creating a breakaway opportunity, and roofed a wrister over the glove of C.J Motte. With the secondary assist, Steve McCarthy picked up his 100th career assist.
Regaining their two goal advantage, the Jackals’ Mike Seidel found space in the low slot, fed a pass back to Spiro Goulakos, who sent a shot through a sea of bodies and just inside the post.
The Jackals earned their largest lead of the night just 31 seconds after the Goulakos tally. Rotating the puck around the zone, Cason Hohmann carried behind the Kalamazoo net and found Ladd standing free in the high slot, and he was able to cash in on the opportunity.
Elmira continued to pour on the offense, this time courtesy of Justin Bernhardt. Streaking down the left side, Bernhardt took a Garrett Klotz pass, and walked in, untouched, to deposit the puck behind Martin.
Attempting to mount a comeback, Kalamazoo cut the Elmira lead to 5-2 with seconds remaining in the second period. Sorenson earned his second marker of the night when he received a Lane Scheidl backhand pass in a soft spot of the Jackals’ defense, and rifled in a shot to the top corner.
Midway through the third frame, Kalamazoo pushed the pace to make it a 5-3 game. Charlie Vasaturo fanned on an attempted slap shot from the right boards, but the missed shot caromed to the tape of Dane Fox, who potted his team-leading 11th of the season.
Making it a one goal game for the third time, the Wings capitalized on their one and only power play opportunity of the game. Adam Phillips unleashed a one-timer from the blue line that deflected off the body of Alex Mallet, who found the puck at his feet, and slid it behind Motte.
Despite a flurry of chances with Martin pulled for the extra attacker, the Wings failed to find the equalizer, dropping the game, 5-4.
The K-Wings next home game will be this Friday, January 8 as they host the Brampton Beast for the second annual kids paint the ice game, presented by MI Blood. Local groups and Kidz Club members painted the ice yesterday and transformed it into an eccentric piece of artwork ahead of Friday’s game.
Notes: Mallet is riding a season-high five game point streak. Sorenson has scored two goals in two of his last three games. Kalamazoo ended their season series with Elmira with a 2-3 record. Fox appeared in his 100th career professional game. McCarthy registered his 100th career assist.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen