KALAMAZOO, MI – A demoralizing loss. That is how Kalamazoo Wings forward Sam Ftorek summed up the K-Wings 2-1 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays on Wednesday night at Wings Stadium.
“They (Stingrays) didn’t deviate from their system at all,” Ftorek said. “We didn’t really adjust the way we were supposed to; we were a step behind and for whatever reason we didn’t have jump tonight.”
A fairly quiet first period ended with a bang as both teams found the back of the net with less than two minutes to go. Justin Taylor knocked in the first and only K-Wing goal with 1:12 remaining to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Taylor chipped in a Nick Sirota pass for his 14th goal of the season which also extends his point scoring streak to six games.
“You’ve got a big body in Darren Archibald who creates a lot of space especially for smaller guys like myself and Nick Sirota, and Nick obviously made a nice pass to me to put the goal in and put us on the board early,” Taylor said.
The celebration was short lived however as the Stingrays answered back with a goal of their own with just nine seconds left in the period. Paul Baier scored for South Carolina.
A quiet second period saw 12 shots by both teams but none of them found the back of the net.
Mike Hamilton, who was playing in his first game of the season for the Stingrays, scored midway into the third period to give South Carolina a 2-1 lead.
A tripping penalty on the Stingrays David de Kastrozza with 27 seconds left in the game, gave the K-Wings a chance to pull even before time expired.
With goaltender Riley Gill also pulled for an extra skater, the K-Wings had a six-on-four advantage and almost tied the game on a Steven Anthony breakaway to the net, but the shot was turned away by net minder Philipp Grubauer to secure the victory for the Stingrays.
“They skated, we didn’t,” K-Wings coach Nick Bootland said. “We didn’t skate at all and it doesn’t matter what x’s and o’s you have, if you are not moving your feet, and you’re not competing and you’re not doing those things that we normally are very good at, you’re not going to win.”
Bootland was pleased with Gill’s performance between the pipes however. “He gave us an opportunity to win that game,” Bootland said. “It was just a weird game for us and you know there weren’t very many people I can count that played really well other than our goaltender.”
Gill turned away 36 of the 38 shots he faced in the loss. “We were a little step behind tonight, I don’t know what it was,” Gill said. “We had a couple nice practices Monday and Tuesday and we just didn’t get the job done tonight. I am pretty disappointed.”
There were only two penalties called during the game.
The K-Wings record drops to 19-12-1-2 on the season but still lead the North Division by four points over the Chicago Express who lost by a score of 7-2 to the Florida Everblades last night.
Traveling to Cincinnati on Friday to battle the Cyclones, the K-Wings will return to Wings Stadium on Saturday night as they face-off against the Toledo Walleye in the 4th Annual McDonalds Golden Ice game.