KALAMAZOO –Dane Fox scored four goals to propel the Kalamazoo Wings (26-24-4-1) to a 5-4 victory in overtime against the Utah Grizzlies on “We Are Kalamazoo” night at Wings Event Center on Saturday night.
The K-Wings paid respect to the victims of the shootings in Kalamazoo two weeks prior. In addition to a special ceremony before the game, the K-Wings donated $2 from every ticket sold, as well as money from concessions, a silent auction and proceeds from the sale of a “We Are Kalamazoo” shirt to raise over $23,000. The money raised will go to the Help Now! Fund, which was set up to provide relief for the families of the victims from the February 20 tragedy.
Before the game, the mother/wife and daughter/sister of Richard and Tyler Smith, two of the victims and Tyler’s girlfriend, were the honorary puck droppers.
Kalamazoo took the early led in the game as Tyler Shattock sent a wrister to the goal that trickled to the far post, past Ryan Faragher near the midway point of the first period.
Just 28 seconds later, the Grizzlies knotted the game up at 1-1 as Charles Sarault lifted a rising shot over the glove of Joel Martin.
The Wings withstood a Utah push and regained their one goal lead at the 14:52 mark of the first period. Fox unleased his first of a career-high four goals from the top of the circle, which hit the right pad of Faragher. Off the bounce, the puck looped over the pad of Faragher and across the line to make it 2-2.
Continuing the seesaw battle, Utah found the equalizer once again. While working on the power play, Bryan Moore found time and space, and streaked a cross-ice feed to the tape of T.J. Snyer, who deposited the open net chance.
As the first period came to a close, Fox continued to push the play and was rewarded with his second goal of the night. Picking up the loose puck in the corner, Fox skated towards the slot and unleashed a no-look wrist shot that fooled Faragher to make it 3-2 with just one second remaining in the period.
Utah scored the only goal in the second period as Cody Ferriero was able to push the puck past Martin to tie the game at 3-3.
The Grizzlies struck for their first lead of the night early in the third period. Advancing the puck, Sarault rifled a pass at the top of the goal crease to the stick of Alex Krushelnyski, who scored to make it a 4-3 Utah lead.
Minutes later, Fox struck for his third of the night to complete the hat trick and even the game up at four. Sacha Guimond blasted a slap shot from the left-side point which stopped the initial shot but put himself out of position, allowing Fox to pop in the easy rebound chance.
For the second straight game, the Wings needed overtime to get the win. With 2:03 left in the extra frame, Fox, at the end of a shift, casually carried down the right boards, picked his spot on the near side, and connected with the back of the net. It gave the Wings their fourth win in a row and their seventh in their last eight games.
Notes: Fox earned his first hat trick of the season, and first since April 2015. Kalamazoo has won six of its last seven games. Martin leads the ECHL in goalie wins. It was the first matchup between the two teams since they were members of the International Hockey League in 1999-2000.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. Utah- Monday, March 7, 7 p.m., Wings Event Center. The two teams will conclude their three-game series on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Wings Event Center.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen