KALAMAZOO- Facing the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Kalamazoo Wings (15-17-2-1) had their work cut out for them as they battled the Reading Royals (26-8-1-1) on Wednesday night at Wings Stadium.
After scoring three goals in the first 14 minutes of the first period, the Royals held the K-Wings off the scoreboard until forward Tyler Shelast scored his third of the season just over two minutes into the final period.
“As far as I have seen, they (Royals) are the best team in the league so far,” Shelast said, “and if you give them three goals, you are in trouble.”
As for his goal, Shelast said that he was hoping to catch the goaltender off guard, which he did.
“It wasn’t the hardest shot, but it was kind of where I was shooting and I just wanted to get it off quick,” Shelast said of his goal.
Alex Berry, Ethan Cox and David Marshall scored in the opening period for the Royals.
Even with the injuries and call ups that have left the lineup depleted as of late and the fact that three players made their K-Wing debut last night, Shelast felt the team played well but can’t make excuses for what they are going through as a team.
“I thought it was a pretty good effort,” Shelast said. “The ECHL is no stranger in having to deal with stuff like that. Every team goes through adversity and I guarantee Reading will eventually have to go through adversity. There are always guys injured, always guys called up.
Kirk McDonald scored the Royals fourth goal of the night late in game.
While he was not happy with the loss, head coach Nick Bootland did find a few positives in the game even after his team dug themselves into a hole early on.
“I felt we actually came out ok,” he said, “but we made glaring mistakes on those first three goals, glaring, fixable mistakes. That’s the positive. We can work from that. We can build on that.”
With the K-Wings leaving for Georgia tomorrow, Bootland said that instead of having an optional practice or no practice at all, the team will be on the ice before they leave town.
“We are going to have a walk through tomorrow,” Bootland said, “just trying to get each other on the same page. We are all here for the same thing. We all want to win, we all want to be successful and we all want to move up, staff, players, everyone included.”
Both teams came up empty on the power play with the Royals going 0-for-3 and the K-Wings 0-for -1.
Joel Martin stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced while Royals net minder Drew MacIntyre turned away 19 of 20. The schedule does not get any easier for the K-Wings as they play two games against the Gwinnett Gladiators this weekend. Gwinnett leads the South Division with a record of 24-12-1-0.