The Kalamazoo Wings have been pushed to the brink of elimination following a 7-3 loss Thursday night to the Florida Everblades in the game four of the Eastern Conference Finals. With the loss, the K-Wings trail the best-of-seven series three games to one.
In a period that was eerily similar to the opening period of game three, the K-Wings dictated a majority of the action in the first, but a turnover in the neutral zone by Kalamazoo would find itself in the back of the net.
Skating to the loose puck at the red line, David Rutherford (3rd) maneuvered around the K-Wings defense and scored on a backhander with 2:59 remaining in the period.
Utilizing a screen in front of the K-Wings net early in the second period, Charles Landry’s (1st) blue line slap shot extended the Everblades lead to 2-0.
Capitalizing on a 5-on-3 power-play, David Fischer (3rd) pushed Florida’s advantage to three goals with a tally 10:26 into the period.
Kalamazoo bounced back moments later with a man-advantage goal of its own, as Dwight Helminen split the defense and scored five-hole on John Muse.
A span of 50 seconds early in the third period put the K-Wings on the ropes. Matt Marquardt (3rd) recorded the eventual game-winner 3:57 into the period.
After winning a draw in the K-Wings zone, Brayden Irwin, who finished the game with four points, notched his lone goal of the contest by tipping in a behind the net centering pass from Mike Ratchuk.
Trying to mount a comeback midway through the period, Darren Archibald (2nd) sent a slap shot past Muse to bring the K-Wings back to within three goals 8:17 into the period.
Just over two minutes later, Helminen (5th) recorded his second power-play strike of the net, this time with a right-circle wrist shot to make to score 5-3 in favor of Florida.
Forging ahead late in regulation, Mathieu Roy (4th) and Rutherford (4th) each lit the lamp for the Everblades to procure the four-goal victory.
Gill, who stopped18 shots, dropped his record to 8-5 in the playoffs, while Muse raised his record to 6-1 by making 28 saves.
Kalamazoo and Florida will continue the Eastern Conference Finals with game five of the best-of-seven series this Saturday, May 5th with a 7:30 p.m. encounter from the Germain Arena.
If necessary, the K-Wings and Everblades will return to Wings Stadium on Tuesday, May 8th for a 7 p.m. face-off in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals. During all third round home games, the K-Wings are offering special Fan Appreciation 25-cent hot dogs.
Tickets for the K-Wings round three playoff games are $16.05 and $19.95 for adults, $15.05 for seniors (62 years and older) and military (with proper ID) and only $10.05 for kids ages 12 and under. Fans can save money by purchasing K-Wings single game tickets in advance because tickets purchased on the day of a game increase by $1.
Submitted by Mike Modugno