The luck of the Irish was not with the Kalamazoo Wings (33-27-1-3) on Friday night as they lost to the visiting Indy Fuel by a 6-5 margin, but a little magic must have traveled with them to Indy the next night as they defeated the Fuel 5-1.
The two teams gave the standing room only crowd of 5,363 at Wings Event Center on Friday night a high scoring and exciting game.
The first period played like a ping pong match with the two teams exchanging goals . Former K-Wing Michael Neal put the Fuel on the board first midway into the opening period, but the K-Wings came right back to tie the game.
Cam Darcy scored a goal just under a minute later, which brought the capacity crowd to its feet. Darcy took a pass from Lane Scheidl, charged down the ice and lifted the puck over the shoulder of Jake Hildebrand, the Fuel netminder, to tie the game at 1-1..
Indy regained the lead just over a minute later, as Matt Rupert powered his way to the goal and slipped the puck through the pads of Nick Riopel for his 16th of the season.
Wasting little time, the K-Wings bounced back to the tie the game at 2-2. A Blake Kessel shot from the blue line bounced off the stick of Josh Pitt and into the goal for Pitt’s 13th of the season.
Picking up where they left off in the first, the two teams combined for five goals in the second period, with the K-Wings taking the upper hand. The K-Wings took their first lead of the game on a power play goal by Tyler Biggs, his 13th of the year. After a Kyle Bushee shot was turned away by Hildebrand, Biggs was able to score on the rebound.
The Fuel came back with two goals of their own later in the period to take a 4-3 lead. Josh Shalla found the back of the goal on a breakaway, and Neal scored his second of the night just under two minutes later.
Pushing their way back into the lead, the K-Wings stuck for a pair just 24 seconds apart. Peter Schneider took a pass from Darcy to the net for his 13th of the year.
Lane Scheidl put the K-Wings back on top seconds later with his 23rd of the year to give them a 5-4 lead heading into the final twenty minutes of hockey.
With less than five minutes to go in the game and a K-Wing victory in sight, the Fuel mounted a comeback. Jake Marchment and Neal scored to take a 6-5 lead and eventual win. The goal by Neal was his third of the night, giving him the hat trick.
On Saturday, the two teams met again, this time at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. After a scoreless opening period, the K-Wings scored twice in the second to take a 2-0 lead. Lane Scheidl and Cam Darcy scored for the K-Wings.
Scheidl struck again to give the K-Wings a 3-0 lead early in the third period.
Jake Marchment broke up the shutout bid by Martin later in the period, to cut the K-Wings lead to 3-1.
The K-Wings held on as Brian Hart scored the empty net goal with just under two minutes remaining in the game and Josh Pitt added a goal just 15 seconds later to slam the door on the Fuel 5-1.
With just eight games remaining in the regular season, the K-Wings are holding on to the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. The K-Wings are 12 points ahead of the fifth place Tulsa Oilers and just four points behind the third place Quad City Mallards. If the playoffs started today, the K-Wings would face the division leading Toledo Walleye.
The K-Wings host the Florida Everblades on Wednesday night with face-off set for 7 pm. The K-Wings remain at home for two games on Friday and Saturday when they host the Norfolk Admirals. Game time is 7 pm for both games.
K-Wings News and Notes:
Friday vs. Indy: Peter Schneider has a team-high four-game goal streak… Schneider has 13 points in his last ten games… Nick Riopel lost just his second game in his last 14 starts… It was Kalamazoo’s third loss this season when leading after two periods… It was Cam Darcy’s second three-point game in eleven contests with Kalamazoo this season…The Wings set a new season low with zero penalty minutes.
Saturday vs. Indy: Joel Martin moved into sole possession of fourth place on the ECHL all-time career wins list… Lane Scheidl has tallied back-to-back three-point games… Peter Schenider has points in five straight…Kalamazoo scored their tenth shorthanded goal of the season… The Wings finished the season series with a 2-2-0-0 record against Indy…Kalamazoo has scored five goals in back-to-back games.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen