The Kalamazoo Wings(13-10-0-0) and the Toledo Walleye (16-6-0-2) met this past Sunday to play in the ECHL Winterfest Game which was held outdoors at Fifth Third Field, home of the Toledo Mud Hens.
It was the first time in seven years for the outdoor game. The K-Wings and Walleye played in the first outdoor Winterfest game on December 27, 2014, with the K-Wings skating away with the 2-1 victory.
Jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead, the K-Wings Kyle Blaney scored his third of the season just 1:14 into the opening frame. The goal by Blaney was thanks in part to teammate Collin Saccoman, who forced a turnover at center ice.
The Walleye scored later in the period to tie the game at one goal apiece on a breakaway goal by Brady Tomlak.
Erik Bradford scored his seventh of the year minutes after the Tomlak goal to give the K-Wings a 2-1 lead.
John Albert was able to deflect the puck into the net with just 10 seconds remaining on a Walleye powerplay to knot the game at 2-2 in the opening minutes of the second period.
From there, the game rested on strong goaltending by the K-Wings Jet Greaves and the Walleyes Billy Christopolous, the reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Week and great defense by both teams.
With the score remaining tied at the end of regulation, the game went into a 3-on-3, seven minute overtime.
Zach Jordan was called for a questionable hooking call in the OT, but the K-Wings were able to fight it off. Neither team scored in OT, pushing the game into the shootout, a first for the K-Wings this season.
Justin Taylor, Erik Bradford and Matheson Iacopelli scored for the K-Wings in the shootout. Greaves stopped two of the four shots he faced in the shootout to give the K-Wings the victory.
The K-Wings will host the Tulsa Oilers on December 31st with the game starting at 6 PM. The K-Wings will be wearing special “Kalamazoo” themed jerseys that will be up for auction following the game. The two teams will meet again on January 2nd for a 3PM faceoff.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen