K-Wings and ECHL announce schedule; new conference alignment

June 24, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

KALAMAZOO – Since joining the ECHL five seasons ago, the Kalamazoo Wings have won the North Division crown four times, including this past season.

Regardless of what happens next season, the North Division will have a new champion, as the K-Wings have moved to the new Midwest Division in the Western Conference.

Joining the K-Wings in the Midwest Division are the Evansville IceMen, Fort Wayne Komets and the ECHL’s newest addition, the Indianapolis (Indy) Fuel. In addition, current Western Conference team, the Colorado Eagles, will be in the Midwest Division as well.

The new conference alignment is as follows:

Eastern Conference

North Division

Cincinnati Cyclones, Elmira Jackals, Reading Royals, Toledo Walleye, Wheeling Nailers

South Division

Florida Everblades, Greenville Road Warriors, Gwinnett Gladiators, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays

Western Conference

Midwest Division

Colorado Eagles, Evansville IceMen, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings

Pacific Division

Alaska Aces, Bakersfield Condors, Idaho Steelheads, Ontario Reign, Stockton Thunder, Utah Grizzlies

In terms of scheduling, which has already been released by the ECHL, nothing will be changing. What will be changing, however, is the format for the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

The top four teams in each division during the regular season will qualify for the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs. All four rounds of the playoffs will be played in a best-of-seven format.

The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played entirely within the division with the division winner meeting the fourth-place finisher and the second-place finisher meeting the team that finished in third place in the Division Semifinals. The Division Finals will pit the winner of each series against each other. The winner of the North Division Finals will meet the winner of the South Division Finals in the Eastern Conference Finals while the winner of the Midwest Division will meet the winner of the Pacific Division Finals in the Western Conference Finals. The 2015 Kelly Cup Finals will see the Eastern Conference champion take on the Western Conference champion.

The Board of Governors determined that this would create a more equitable opportunity for all teams to qualify for a playoff position.

Kicking off their 41st season of hockey on the road, the K-Wings will play the first three games on the road, beginning on Friday, October 17th against the Elmira Jackals. The K-Wings first home game will be on Friday, October 24th as they battle the Fort Wayne Komets during the 11th Annual Orange Ice Game.

This season, 30 of the K-Wings 36 regular season games, will be played on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Other home schedule highlights include the 13th Annual New Year’s Eve Bash versus the Cincinnati Cyclones. The K-Wings will also plan to host their 14th Annual Pink Ice and 4th Annual Susan G. Komen games; however, due to the USA Curling Nationals coming to the Wings Stadium Complex, the games will not occur on Valentine’s Day.

One of the most historic traditions in hockey will continue on Tuesday, March 17th, when the Indianapolis Fuel travels to Wings Stadium for the 34th Annual World Famous “Green Ice” Game.

On December 27th Kalamazoo will participate in the first-ever ECHL Outdoor Game against the Toledo Walleye.

The four teams the K-Wings battle the most this year are the Fort Wayne Komets (15 games; 9 home and 6 away), the Toledo Walleye (13 games; 6 home, 7 away), the Cincinnati Cyclones (9 games; 4 home, 5 away) and the Indianapolis Fuel (6 games; 2 home and 4 away). The K-Wings do not face the Greenville Road Warriors or South Carolina Stingrays during the regular season. All other teams in the Eastern Conference make at least one appearance at Wings Stadium this season.

The ECHL Board of Governors also made the following changes for the upcoming season:

Change to overtime format for regular season:

Teams will start overtime of all regular-season games in the opposite end they started the game.

Approval of hybrid icing

Following the lead of the National Hockey League, the Board of Governors has approved the implementation of hybrid icing for the 2014-15 season.

The hybrid-icing system allows the linesman to blow the play dead and call an automatic icing if he determines that the puck will cross the goal line and the defending player is not behind in the race to the end-zone faceoff dots in his defensive zone. The faceoff would go to the far end of the ice as it did with icings called in the no-touch icing used by the ECHL in the past.

If the attacking player is leading the race, the linesman is supposed to allow the play to continue.

K-Wings complete weekend sweep

December 8, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Greenville, SC – The Kalamazoo Wings (10-6-0-2) earned six out of six possible points this past weekend as they bounced between South Carolina and Georgia taking on two teams from the South Division.

Defeating the Greenville Road Warriors (8-12-1-1) on Thursday night by a score of 5-1, the K-Wings traveled to Gwinnett, GA to battle the Gladiators (6-14-0-2).

Jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, the K-Wings received a shorthanded goal from Yanni Gourde late in the period and Justin Taylor added his third goal of the year with under a minute remaining in the stanza. The shorthanded goal by Gourde is the K-Wings fifth of the season. Last year in 72 games, the K-Wings scored a total of seven shorthanded tallies.

A pair of Gladiator goals by Mike Embach and Kurtis Bartiff in the second period sandwiched a tally from Mike Matczak for a 3-2 K-Wing lead at the end of two periods of hockey.

Embach stuck again in the third to tie the game 3-3 and send the game into overtime. Neither team scored in the OT forcing the sudden death shootout.

Taylor, Yannick Veilleux and Eric Kattelus scored for the K-Wings in the shootout while Joey Haddad and Josh Currie scored for the Gladiators to give the K-Wings a 4-3 victory.

Closing out the weekend, the K-Wings headed back to Greenville, SC to take on the Road Warriors for the second time in three nights. On Thursday, the K-Wings were called for a season-high 48 penalty minutes with 22 of them coming in the final 36 seconds of the contest. The Road Warriors were whistled for 40 minutes of penalties with 32 of them being assessed in final 36 seconds of the contest.

The bad blood between the two teams spilled over into Saturday night’s contest as well as Veilleux and Bretton Stamier squared off just five minutes into the game. Sam Ftorek and Andrew Carroll also came to blows in the second period.

While the teams battled physically, neither team was able to put the puck past either goaltender for the first two periods.

A miscue by goaltender Scott Stajcer of the Road Warriors led to the K-Wings first goal of the night. Out of the net to play the puck, Stajcer sent the puck to Matt Caria who put the puck into the empty net.

Yanni Gourde tacked on a goal with just 35 seconds left in the game to help ensure a K-Wing victory. Goaltender Jordan Binnington earned his first professional shutout as he turned away all 36 shots he faced in the K-Wings 2-0 win.

The K-Wings return to action on Wednesday as they wrap up their four-game road trip when they battle the Cincinnati Cyclones.

K-Wings storm past Road Warriors

December 8, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

GREENVILLE, SC – The Kalamazoo Wings (8-6-0-2) kicked off their four-game road trip with a victory on Thursday night as they defeated the Greenville Road Warriors (7-11-1-1) by a score of 5-1.

The win moves the K-Wings into third place in the North Division, one point ahead of the Fort Wayne Komets and six points behind the first place Cincinnati Cyclones.

Scoring twice in the first period, the K-Wings never looked back as they held the Road Warriors scoreless until the last minute of the game.

Yanni Gourde scored a power-play goal and David Pacan scored later in the period to give the K-Wings a 2-0 lead.

Ludwig Blomstrand scored his sixth of the season midway into the second period increasing the K-Wing lead to 3-0.

Justin Taylor netted his first and second goals of the season in the third period. Taylor’s first goal was a shorthanded tally early in the period. Mike Matczak added three assists on the night.

Brandon Hynes scored the Road Warriors only goal in the third.

Jordan Binnington was in goal for the K-Wings stopping 43 of the 44 shots he faced for the win while Connor Knapp stopped 30 of 35 in the loss.

The K-Wings were 1-for-4 on the power-play while the Road Warriors came up empty on eight chances.

Traveling to Gwinnett, GA, the K-Wings will face-off against the Gladiators tonight before returning to battle the Road Warriors on Saturday night.

K-Wings to have a “blue” Christmas

December 8, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

KALAMAZOO- Are you feeling blue this holiday season? If so, you are in good company.

The Kalamazoo Wings and Bell’s Brewery have teamed up for the first-ever Winter White Blue Ice Game at Wings Stadium. Winter White is Belgian-style Ale designed for embracing winter.

On Friday, December 20th and 21st, the K-Wings will add yet another color to their already crowded palette of colored ice games.

Continuing the tradition of the orange, pink and green ice games, blue is being added to the mix as the K-Wings take on division rivals the Toledo Walleye on both nights. Game time is 7:30 pm on both nights.

“We are very pleased to partner with an outstanding local company like Bell’s,” K-Wings General Manager Jim Burlew said in a statement released by the team. “The K-Wings have a rich history with colored ice games and Bell’s is furthering that legacy with our first ever Blue Ice event.”

For the past several years, the McDonalds Gold Ice Game was held in January, but this year the game is missing from the schedule.

The K-Wings will also be wearing special jerseys for the game on December 21st which will be auctioned off following the game with the proceeds going to charity.

“It’s going to be a fun, exciting family weekend –plenty for everyone. Winter White and the K-Wings are a perfect pairing” said Laura Bell, Bell’s Vice President.

In addition, former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty will be making an appearance during the December 20th game. McCarty, a four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Red Wings (1997, 1998,2002 and 2008) will be on hand to sign autographs and meet with fans beginning at 6:30 pm.

K-Wings fall to Stingrays

December 1, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

KALAMAZOO – Taking on the top team in the ECHL, the Kalamazoo Wings (7-6-0-2) forced the South Carolina Stingrays (14-2-1-2) to overtime on Saturday night only to falter in the shootout and lose by a score of 3-2.

With the win, the Stingrays remain unbeaten in regulation while on the road.

Yanni Gourde put the K-Wings on the board early in the second period with his seventh goal of the year. Eric Kattalus and Elgin Reid assisted on the goal. The assist by Reid was the 100th of his career. The goal by Gourde tied Kattelus for the team lead at seven.

K-Wings goaltender Joel Martin held opponents scoreless for 168:28 dating back to November 8 until Jack Downing scored a power-play goal in the opening minute of the third period.

Taking the lead later in the period, Marc Hagel scored added another power-play goal at the midway point of the stanza to give the Stingrays their first lead of the game.

Celebrating his 39th birthday in style, Sam Ftorek scored a power-play goal minutes after the Hagel goal to knot the game at 2-2. Mike Matczak and Aaron Clarke assisted on the goal.

No goals were scored again during regulation sending the game into overtime. Neither the K-Wings nor the Stingrays were able to put the game away in the OT which forced the sudden death shootout.

Downing and Chad Painchaud scored for the Stingrays while David Pacan scored for the K-Wings, giving the Stingrays the 3-2 victory.

The K-Wings lost to the Florida Everblades on Wednesday night by a score of 5-2 and defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 4-0 on Friday night.

Hitting the road to South Carolina and Georgia, the K-Wings will take on the Greenville Road Warriors on Friday and Sunday and the Gwinnett Gladiators on Saturday.

K-Wings drop home opener

October 28, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

KALAMAZOO-The Kalamazoo Wings continue to be haunted by the Evansville IceMen as they fell to a record of 0-2 on the young season. After a 2-0 win over the K-Wings last weekend, the IceMen defeated the K-Wings 2-1 on Saturday night.

The Halloween spirit was alive and well as the ice was colored orange and the players were wearing one of a kind jersey’s that were auctioned off following the game.

After a scoreless first period that saw the K-Wings muster only two shots on net, the IceMen took the lead on a Matt Schepke goal early in the second period.

A spirited third period saw the K-Wings score their first goal of the season as Chris Lawrence tied the game early in the stanza to make it a 1-1 game. Later in the period, the Icemen’s Mike Seidel scored the eventual game winner.

Head coach Nick Bootland felt that his team did not play as well as he wanted them to until the final period of action, when the team played with desperation.

“I felt, in the third period, we started to do the things we wanted too,” he said, “we started to move the puck and work the back of the net, change sides and work the puck low to high and we were shooting the puck and getting more opportunities.”

IceMen goaltender Mike Clemente stopped 44 of the 45 shots he faced against the K-Wings in the past two games, but with the K-Wings allowing just two goals per game, Bootland sees an opportunity.

“When a goaltender is doing a nice job like they have the last couple of nights and we keep them below 30 shots and two goals against, we need to find a way to win those hockey games and the offense will come with this hockey team.”

The biggest issue for the K-Wings offense, according to Bootland, is two-fold.

“I don’t think we had a lot of second chance opportunities tonight and I don’t think we had a ton of traffic when we were shooting the puck.” he said. “You have to go to those tough areas, those gritty areas to try and score goals and we need to work on it.”

Both teams came up empty on the power play in four chances.

The K-Wings next home game will be this Friday as they host the Toledo Walleye. Also on tap Friday is “Duck Dynasty” night which will feature a visit from “Mountain Man” from the smash A&E show.

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