KALAMAZOO – The Kalamazoo Wings may have won game three of the best-of-five series over the Wheeling Nailers on Friday night, but coach Nick Bootland says there are still areas that the K-Wings need to work on if they are going to move on to the second round.
“I really don’t think that it is a 5-1 score,”Bootland said. “We were playing with fire a little bit. We have to tighten things up in our defensive zone and the neutral zone; we have to find a way to slow them down.”
Although they were outshot 11-9 in the third, Bootland said the final period was the K-Wings best. “As the game went on, we got a little better,” he said. “The third period was the type of period we wanted to play.”
Bootland noted that the team needs to play a little smarter however, as the Nailers are a dangerous team and he does not want them to any momentum.
As they have done in the previous two games, the K-Wings scored first. Elgin Reid sent a Dwight Helminen pass into the net for the 1-0 lead.
“It was nice because I thought I should have had one a little earlier,” Reid said. “It took a nice bounce on to my stick and Helmer (Dwight Helminen) made a good play driving to the net and putting pucks on the goalies pads.”
With Dustin Cloutier hovering around the net, Mike Matczak sent the puck toward the net, deflecting off Cloutier’s stick for a 2-0 K-Wings lead.
Chris Barton scored just over two minutes later to put the Nailers on the board, cutting the K-Wings lead to 2-1.
But that was all the offense for the Nailers and Riley Gill slammed the door, allowing only that one goal on 38 shots by the Nailers.
Scoring on the power play, Nick Sirota tipped in a Kory Karlander shot to give the K-Wings a 3-1 lead.
Gill also stopped a penalty shot later just a minute later, the second in two games.
“I got a little piece of it with my stick,” Gill said. “The guy made a nice move, obviously he had me beat, but I got a little piece of it there and kept it out.”
Gill said the save was a big turning point in the game.
“If they score there it makes it 3-2, and their still on the power play there, and anything can happen,” Gill said.
In three games, Gill has faced 102 shots, which is just how he likes it.
“It keeps me in it (the game),” Gill said. It’s always good when you are seeing shots, especially in a playoff series like this. If you happen to let in a bad goal, you kind of get down on yourself when you’re not seeing the rubber.”
Adding to their lead in the third, Darryl Bootland popped a wrister into the net and Cloutier added his second of the night a few minutes later for a 5-1 K-Wing lead and eventual win.
Game four is tonight at Wings Stadium. Face-off is set for 7:30 pm. With a win, the K-Wings will advance to round two of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.