The Kalamazoo Wings (10-9-1-0) were able to snag four out of six points this past week as they defeated the Toledo Walleye (8-10-2-1) twice and lost to the Wheeling Nailers (11-10-0-0) to end their weekend.
On Wednesday, the K-Wings traveled to the Huntington Arena in Toledo, to take on the Walleye for an early morning Education Day game.
Controlling the game from the get-go, the K-Wings Justin Taylor (4) and Darby Llewellyn (3) scored two goals in a 59 second span to take a 2-0 lead.
The Walleye opened the second period with a quick goal just over two minutes in as Brett Boeing cut the K-Wings lead in half with his first of the season.
That was the only offense the Walleye would manage as the K-Wings went on to score four unanswered goals to skate away with a 6-1 victory.
Mason McCarty scored his first professional hat trick with Max Humitz adding a goal of his own. Paval Cajun was in net for the K-Wings, stopping 35 of the 36 shots he faced as he improved his record to 2-0-0-0. Cajun’s two games have both been against the Walleye.
For McCarty, the hat trick was nice, but the “W” was the prize.
“Winning always feels good,” McCarty said, “Sometimes you get some bounces and things work out. That feels good. (I am) happy to get a road win.”
McCarty went on to score another goal against the Walleye on Friday night at Wings Event Center, his seventh against the Walleye. So far this season, McCarty has scored ten goals in 20 games while adding eight assists.
“I don’t play them any differently than anyone else,” McCarty said of his goal count against the Walleye.”
“I go back to it just being a combination of great teamwork, bounced and good things happening,” McCarty continued. “But I am always aware of my opponent and I try to channel that focus into my game.
Prior to Friday night’s game, the K-Wings organization paid tribute to former great Kevin Schamehorn, who passed away this past Thursday following a lengthy battle against cancer.
Schamehorn, 66, played for the K-Wings for eight seasons, spanning from 1976 to 1990. Racking up impressive numbers, Schamehorn is the K-Wings all-time leader in points with 474. His number 26 was retired by the organization in 2018.
Toledo hit the scoreboard first on Friday as Tommy Parran scored his second of the season late in the first period.
Storming back in the second, the K-Wings Coale Norris (3) and McCarty (10) scored to give the home team a 2-1 advantage. Brandon Hawkins tied the score early in the third period with his fifth of the season.
Raymond Brice scored on a breakaway in overtime to give the K-Wings a 3-2 win.
Cajun earned his third victory of the season and his third against the Walleye, stopping 43 of the 45 shots he faced.
On Saturday, the K-Wings lost to the visiting Wheeling Nailers 5-0.
McCarty said that his first season with the K-Wings is off to a great start.
“I’m definitely having a lot of fun being here.” McCarty said. “It’s a learning curve, coming out of school, and in Kalamazoo there’s a high standard for everything we do, in and out of the rink.”
According to McCarty, head coach Joel Martin and his staff make their expectations known.
“Every guy in that locker room buys in,” McCarty said. “The culture is what resonates with me the most. All the guys in the room are awesome and it’s always fun just watching, listening and learning.”
Between call-ups and injuries, the K-Wings revolving door has been in full swing so far this season, but that doesn’t affect the mindset of McCarty.
“I never think about it,” McCarty said, “Things change all the time. I focus on what I can control. Attitude and effort. You gotta let the chips fall where they may.”
With 18 points in his first 20 games, McCarty just keeps chugging along.
“Every day is a new day,” McCarty said, “No one cares about last month, last week or yesterday. We all know we gotta come to work every day and focus on playing the right way. That’s what allows us to play for the win, night in and night out.”
As he continues his first full season in the ECHL, the Blackie, Alberta, Canada native is feeling right at home in Kalamazoo.
“I couldn’t be happier here.” McCarty said. “The organization is first class. We get treated amazingly, the facilities, the staff, everything. The city and fans are amazing, too.”
And the weather is a lot warmer than back home,” McCarty added with a laugh.
K-Wings News and Notes: The K-Wings honored Justin Taylor on Saturday night for becoming their new franchine leader in goals scored with 240. Taylor was presented with an engraved, bronze puck by the organization.
Goaltender Hunter Vorva is back with the K-Wings following the call-up of Paval Cajun to the Cleveland Monsters.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen