The Kalamazoo Wings (16-19-4-1) faced off against the Wheelings Nailers (16-19-2-2) for two big games this past weekend. The K-Wings and Nailers were tied for second place entering the weekend matchup.
On Friday, the two teams battled into overtime with the Nailers escaping with a 2-1 win. However, with the game going into OT, the K-Wings earned a point in the contest.
Saturday nights game seemed headed in the same direction as the night before as the two teams were tied at one goal apiece entereing the third period. A three goal outburst by the K-Wings in the final period, gave them a 4-1 victory pushing them into sole poession of second place, if only by a point.
For the second straight night, it was the Wings who would get on the board first. After stripping the puck from a Wheeling defender, Alex Mallet brushed it ahead to create a two-on-zero opportunity with Tanner Sorenson and David Gilbert. Sorenson called his own number on the play and head-faked goalie Casey DeSmith of the Nailers to free up some space and pick the top corner for his 11th goal of the season.
Midway through the first period and facing a one-goal deficit, the Nailers were able to create an opportunity after Andrew Cerretani chipped a puck ahead to the speedy Cody Wydo, who used his speed to sneak behind the Kalamazoo defense and lift a backhand over the glove of Joel Martin to deadlock the game at one.
The Wings dominated the play in the third period and were rewarded for their efforts five minutes in. With Ludwig Blomstrand streaking to the goal, Curtis Valk fed a tape-to-tape feed to the right wing side where Blomstrand dropped to a knee and blasted a one-timer into the back of the goal.
Only 44 seconds passed before Kalamazoo added to their lead, as Justin Taylor slipped through the Wheeling defense and scooped a backhand past the stick side of DeSmith. The goal was Taylor’s 100th of his professional career.
Kalamazoo put the nail in the coffin with Mallet’s 13th goal of the season at the 9:12 mark of the third. Sorenson’s shot from a tight angle was saved by DeSmith, as was Gilbert’s follow-up attempt, but Mallet couldn’t be denied on his rebound try, giving the Wings a decisive 4-1 lead.
Notes: Taylor scored his 100th career goal in his 343rd career ECHL game. Martin made 32 saves in the victory and made 68 stops over the two weekend games against Wheeling. Dane Fox had his four-game goal streak come to an end, but still registered an assist.
The K-Wings return home this weekend as the Quad City Mallards come to town on Friday night for a 7 pm faceoff. The Fort Wayne Komets come to Wings Event Center on Sunday, with game time set for 4 pm.
Submitted by Mark McGlothlen