KALAMAZOO-A goal by Phil Rauch late in the third period broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Toledo Walleye the win over the Kalamazoo Wings and sole possession of first place in the ECHL’s North Division on Sunday evening at Wings Stadium.
The Walleye (11-7-0-1) have a one point lead over the second place Cincinnati Cyclones and a five point advantage over the third place K-Wings (9-9-0-0). The Fort Wayne Komets are one point behind the K-Wings in fourth and the Evansville IceMen are 10 points behind the division leaders and are in last.
Managing to jump out to a quick 1-0 lead, Kory Karlander sent a John Armstrong pass into the net for a power play goal early in the first period. Both Armstrong and Karlander are riding four-point scoring streaks. Mitch Versteeg also earned an assist on the goal extending his point streak to three games.
Phil Oreskovic put the Walleye on the board early in the second period knocking in a rebound shot past K-Wing net minder Joel Martin to knot the game at 1-1.
The score remained tied until early in the third period when Max Campbell gave the Walleye their first lead of the night.
John Negrin scored his first goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2 minutes later. The score remained tied until the Rauch goal with just two minutes left in regulation.
The Walleye came up empty on four power play chances while the K-Wings went one-for-seven. The K-Wings were outshot 40-27 on the night.
The K-Wings will travel to Toledo for a game on Friday and then head to Evansville for a match up against the IceMen on Saturday.
Dropping a 4-3 Thanksgiving night decision to the Komets, the K-Wings came back to defeat the Komets by a score of 5-2 on Friday night at Wings Stadium.
KALAMAZOO — Sam Ftorek is a glutton for punishment. In addition to competing in a duathlon and a triathlon this summer, the 37-year old defenseman for the Kalamazoo Wings also took part in the “Muddy Patriot” at Timber Ridge in Gobles.
Even though he was not quite sure what the Muddy Patriot was all about, when he received a Groupon in his email about the event, it was game on.
“I told my wife ‘I’m going to do it,’” Ftorek said. “For no other reason than it is something different. I had absolutely no idea what it was all about, I just knew there were obstacles and mud.”
The 1.5- or 3.5-mile military-style obstacle course, which consisted of running up and down ski slopes, through puddles and trenches of mud and rope swings, proved to be challenging for Ftorek.
“It was a lot more difficult than I expected,” said Ftorek, who ran the 1.5-mile course.
Completing the course in about 25 minutes, Ftorek said that it took him as long to recover from the run as it does a 60-minute hockey game. But he would do it again in a heartbeat.
As a hockey player, Ftorek is used to taking hits into the boards, but which would he rather endure: the hits or the Muddy Patriot?
“I’d rather do the Muddy Patriot, the 1.5-mile that is,” he said. “If it was between the 3.5-mile and getting hit, I’d get hit any day of the week.”
Spending most of his 14-year career in the ECHL, Ftorek and his family are planted in Kalamazoo for the fourth straight season, the longest tenure they have had with one team.
“My family loves it here,” Ftorek said. “At the end of the season, I always look for the best team that I could go play for, and it is hard to find a better team than we have been with the last few years.”
Family life has played a role in the Ftoreks’ longevity in Kalamazoo, as his daughter is now in school and loving it. “It’s nice to come back,” he said. “We’ve got a great head coach and a great organization. Everything is kind of coming together, but it is a little different playing in the same place for more than a year or two.”
Before returning to the K-Wings this season, the Ftoreks endured a summer of heartbreak and rebirth.
In addition to purchasing a home, the Ftoreks welcomed their third child, Mason, into the family on Aug. 16. The day before that, Ftorek’s grandmother passed away.
But it was on July 22 when the Ftorek family suffered a tremendous loss. Anna, Ftorek’s 23-year-old sister, passed away without warning of a heart attack.
“Without Mason, we would love to forget this summer,” Ftorek said. “But that’s life. There is a reason. Don’t know what it is right now. I don’t like it. She was happy, hanging around, joking with the kids and then she was gone. She was a big hockey fan and a good, goofy, funny kid.”
Taking to the ice this season is part of the coping process for Ftorek. “It’s one of those things where you move on by staying busy and grieve when you can,” he said. “For me, it’s something where I can go and get a little aggression out and kind of play with a little more freedom knowing that nothing in life is guaranteed.”
An accomplished artist in his own right, Ftorek designed a helmet decal for the Erie Otters of the OHL, where Ftorek’s father Robbie is the head coach. The Otters dedicated their season in memory of Anna.
Ftorek and his K-Wings teammates are wearing the decal on their helmets this season, as well. The sticker is in the shape of an Asiatic lily, Anna’s favorite flower, is yellow and blue, the colors of the Otters, and has musical notes as the pistils, as Anna loved to sing. “It encompasses her,” Ftorek said. “It is something very pretty to look at, and her name is on one of the petals.”
As he has the past several years, Ftorek also takes part in a weekly chapel after practice at Wings Stadium that is headed by Chaplain Jim McKernan. The 15-20 minute chapel revolves around hockey and how the game and lifestyle can relate to the Bible. It is also another outlet for Ftorek in helping him and others deal with the ups and downs of life.
“It is more about how you can keep yourself on the right track because a lot of players can easily get depressed or upset or not happy with where they are,” Ftorek said. “Chapel allows you to have a little more personal interaction and it is a good release and helps to keep you centered and have some stability.”
Ftorek is starting the season strong. In the K-Wings six games, he has two goals and five assists. Both of his goals were scored on the power play in last Friday night’s win over the Evansville IceMen. Ftorek is also second in the ECHL with five power-play points.
The K-Wings are home this weekend for two games. Tonight they battle the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:30 p.m. and then on Saturday the Fort Wayne Komets come to town for a 3 p.m. matinee.
KALAMAZOO — The Kalamazoo Wings not only dropped both games this weekend to division foes, but they also lost footing in the standings. Starting the weekend in a first place tie with the Cincinnati Cyclones, the K-Wings are now in third place, four points behind the first place Cyclones in the ECHL’s North Division.
Looking to get back to their winning ways following a loss Wednesday night to the Cyclones, the K-Wings jumped out to a 2-1 lead midway into the second period over the Cyclones on Friday night at Wings Stadium. Joe Charlebois and Elgin Reid scored for the K-Wings.
That lead quickly disappeared as the Cyclones reeled off three goals in a span of one minute and five seconds to take a 4-2 lead over the K-Wings.
Down but not out, the K-Wings’ Brett Lysak scored a pair of goals, both on the power play, just over a minute apart, to tie the game at 4-4 with just five minutes left in regulation.
Mike Embach scored the game-winner for the Cyclones with just over two minutes remaining in the game to give them the victory and sole possession of first place.
For the second straight night, the K-Wings failed to dig themselves out of a hole as the Fort Wayne Komets scored five consecutive goals in route to a 6-5 win on Saturday afternoon.
After taking a 1-0 lead on a John Armstrong power play goal, the Komets tied the score late in the first on a Jean-Michel Rizk goal.
Thomas Beauregard opened the second period with a pair of goals for the Komets to put them ahead by a score of 3-1. Josh Brittain and Daniel Maggio also scored in the period to put the Komets up by a 5-1 margin.
A power play tally by Darren Archibald was enough to give the K-Wings some momentum. Dustin Cloutier scored his first of the season just over two minutes later on a Sam Ftorek pass to cut the lead to 5-3.
Adam Polasek scored on the rebound midway into the final period to bring the K-Wings to within a single goal.
The Komets’ Beauregard seemingly finished off the K-Wings with an empty-net goal, his third of the afternoon, to give the Komets a 6-4 lead with just under a minute to go in the game.
A Nick Sirota goal with just 4.7 seconds left in the game cut the lead to 6-5, but the clock ran out on the K-Wings.
For the night, the K-Wings were 2-for-7 on the power play while the Komets were 1-for-4.
The K-Wings record now stands at 5-4-0-0 and are in third place with 10 points on the season.
K-Wings News and Notes
Matczak to Monarchs: Defenseman Mike Matczak was loaned to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL this weekend. Matczak started the season in the Monarchs training camp and becomes the second K-Wings player this season to be called-up to the American Hockey League.
Upcoming games: The K-Wings continue their five-game home stand with a 10:30 a.m. game on Wednesday against the South Carolina Stingrays on Education Day. The two teams face-off again on Friday night and the Fort Wayne Komets return to Wings Stadium on Saturday night. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.
KALAMAZOO — A sell-out crowd packed into Wings Stadium on Friday night for the Kalamazoo Wings’ home opener as well as to catch a glimpse at the $2 million renovations that were completed over the past few weeks. The K-Wings also raised their third consecutive North Division Championship banner before the game.
Both on the ice and off, the K-Wings put on quite a show. Facing the Fort Wayne Komets for the second time in three games, the K-Wings hoped to build off their regular season win over the Komets one week earlier. The game was delayed by 45 minutes due to an accident on I-94 that prevented the Komets from getting to Wings Stadium on time for pre-game warm-ups.
Once the game got underway, the defensive units of both teams as well as the goaltenders played stellar as neither team was able to score in regulation. A five-minute four-on-four overtime period did not produce a goal for the teams either, sending the game to the overtime shootout.
The K-Wings scored three times in the shootout, receiving goals from Justin Taylor, Michael Davies and Brett Lysak while K-Wing net minder Joel Martin stopped all three players he faced for the 1-0 K-Wing victory.
On the night, Martin stopped all 35 shots he faced en route to his 16th career shutout and 11th with the K-Wings.
Saturday night saw the Toledo Walleye make their first visit to Wings Stadium this season. Unlike the night before, the K-Wings did not wait as long to put the puck in the net. Midway into the opening period, Darren Archibald scored his second goal of the season to give the K-Wings a 1-0 lead.
Will Coetzee evened the score midway into the second period with his second of the season.
Just under two minutes later, it was Archibald again, this time scoring on the power play to give the K-Wings a 2-1 lead. Kory Karlander scored the eventual game winner later in the period, his first on the young season.
The K-Wings’ Michael Davies added his first of the year early in the third period for a 4-1 K-Wings lead.
Bryon Froese scored a short-handed goal a few minutes later, but K-Wing goaltender Joe Cannata, making his K-Wing debut, shut the door on the Walleye.
Cantanna stopped 40 of the 42 shots he faced in the victory.
On the season, the K-Wings are 3-1-0-0.
The K-Wings will play two games against the Evansville IceMen this coming weekend. On Friday, the K-Wings will make their first appearance at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. Then on Saturday, the IceMen make their Wings Stadium debut for the K-Wings Ninth Annual Orange Ice Game.
The Kalamazoo Wings opened their 39th season with a big win over the Fort Wayne Komets on Friday night defeating the home team by a score of 4-1.
After a scoreless, yet high energy opening period in which the teams combined for 20 shots, the K-Wings came out flying in the second with a four-goal outburst.
A lucky bounce led to the K-Wings first goal of the night. A Prab Rai pass from behind the net deflected off the skate of Komet player and into the net.
Darren Archibald kept the momentum in the K-Wings favor by netting a goal just 49 seconds later to give the K-Wings a 2-0 lead.
Elgin Reid and Eric Kattelus scored later in the period to give the K-Wings a four goal lead. Kattelus had three points on the night.
The Komets Brandon Marino scored the Komets first-ever ECHL goal midway into the third period, but that was the only goal Joel Martin would allow on the night, making 25 saves.
On Saturday night, the K-Wings traveled to Toledo to take on the Walleye.
Scoring the first three goals of the contest and getting solid goaltending from Peter Mrazek, the Walleye defeated the K-Wings by a score of 4-1. Mrazek, making his first professional start, stopped 33 K-Wings shots in route to the victory.
Elgin Reid scored the K-Wings lone goal.
The K-Wings return to action this Friday and Saturday nights as they open the home portion of their schedule. Fort Wayne comes to town on Friday while the Walleye make their first visit of the season on Saturday. Both games begin at 7:30 pm.
KALAMAZOO — With training camp set to get underway next week, the Kalamazoo Wings are putting the finishing touches on their preseason roster.
With 10 players already signed, the K-Wings announced the signings of Dustin Cloutier, Eric Kattelus and Aaron Schmit.
Cloutier returns to Kalamazoo to begin his first full season as a member of the K-Wings. Joining the team in late December, Cloutier began last season with the Augusta RiverHawks of the SPHL. In 20 games with the RiverHawks, Cloutier scored 10 goals and added 23 assists.
Continuing to put up impressive numbers with the K-Wings, Cloutier knocked in 23 goals and had 10 assists in 45 games. In just his third game as a K-Wing, Cloutier scored two goals and added an assist against the Cincinnati Cyclones and was the first K-Wing to net a hat trick last season against the Toledo Walleye on March 18. Read more