Behind a three-assist night from Cory Pritz and a two goal performance from Curtis Valk, the Kalamazoo Wings downed the Brampton Beast, 6-2, at the 35th annual ‘World Famous’ Green Ice game at Wings Event Center on Thursday.
Despite early pressure from the Beast, the Wings earned the game’s first power play chance and found the first strike of the night. Justin Taylor set a screen in front of Brampton netminder Jordan Ruby, allowing David Gilbert to lift the puck to the top corner, over the glove of Ruby.
Much like the first period, the Wings withstood extensive pressure from Brampton early in the middle frame, but once again struck for a quick marker. Justin Kovacs carried in on a two-on-one with Ludwig Blomstrand, with Kovacs firing a low, soft shot towards the net. The initial shot was stopped by the pad of Ruby, but the rebound landed in the slot where Curtis Valk deposited the attempt. The tally gives Valk a season-high four-game goal streak.
Minutes later and working on an extended power play following a major penalty to the Beast, the Wings pushed their lead to 3-0.Lane Scheidl found space at the right circle, carried down low, and pushed a shot towards the net, over the pad of Ruby, and just inside the far post.
Kovacs pushed the Kalamazoo lead to 4-0 just under three minutes later. Streaking through the neutral zone, Kovacs poked the puck off the tape of a Brampton defender, giving him a short breakaway attempt. Going forehand-backhand-forehand, Kovacs pulled Ruby out of position and lifted a soft shot over the outstretched pad of the Beast goaltender.
Continuing the onslaught, the Wings pushed their lead to 5-0 with five minutes remaining in the second frame. Blomstrand fed a pass from below the goal line to the tape of a cutting Valk, who picked the far post and popped home his second of the night.
Coming out for the start of the third, the Beast made a change in net, substituting Kenny Reiter for Ruby, who made 14 saves on 19 shots in two periods of work.
Just as a power play chanced ended for Brampton early in the third, Steven Kaunisto got the Beast on the board. Cycling the puck back to the blue line, Kaunisto unloaded a one-timer from the left point and over the glove of a screened out Joel Martin.
Looking to mount a comeback, the Beast netted their second unanswered goal to make it 5-2, early in the final frame. With a scrum at the front of the net, Nick McParland sent an innocent shot towards Martin, who stopped the try, but the rebound landed on the stick of Steve Mele, who pushed home his second of the season.
Tanner Sorenson broke the Beast momentum with a blast from the slot, late in the third. A lazy pass from a Brampton defender landed in the slot, where Sorenson, who was all alone, unloaded a slap shot past Reiter, making it a 6-2 game.
Capping off the scoring for the night, Scheidl netted his second with an easy tap in while on the power play. Tyler Shattock fed a cross-ice feed through the goal crease to Scheidl, sealing a 7-2 victory for the Wings.
Notes: Kalamazoo finished the season with a 5-0-0-0 record against Brampton at Wings Event Center. Valk has goals in four straight games. Tonight marked the third game in which the Wings posted seven goals. Kalamazoo’s power play went 3/6 on the night. Martin made 36 saves on 38 shots.
The Wings continue their weekend at home on Saturday, March 19 against the Wheeling Nailers on Ninja Turtles night. The Ninja Turtles will be in attendance to interact with the crowd, take photos, and indulge in their favorite dining option. The Hungry Howie’s concession stand will be offering $1 pizza slices while supplies last.