Ever trailing in game four, the Kalamazoo Wings defeated the Wheeling Nailers 3-2 Saturday night at Wings Stadium to win their Best-of-Five Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Series three games to one.
Justin Taylor earned his first goal of the postseason to give the K-Wings the lead 5:46 into the first period. Taylor’s initial shot was stopped by Patrick Killeen; however, with the puck loose the side of the net, Taylor skated by and jammed it over the goal line.
Kalamazoo built on their lead midway through the period when Darren Archibald found Kory Karlander in the high slot for his second-goal of the playoffs. Also assisting on the goal was Nick Sirota, who extended his playoff point streak to four games.
With Chris Barton standing behind the K-Wings net, the forward cut the K-Wings lead in half with 1:31 left in the opening period, Barton looking out in front redirected a shot off the back of Riley Gill and into the net.
A turnover at the Nailers blue line helped the K-Wings increase their advantage back to two goals. After Trent Daavettila stole the puck in front of his own bench, he chipped it to Darryl Bootland, who in turn led Dwight Helminen (2nd). Helminen skated in and scored on a wrister to extend his point streak to four games.
Not going away in the third period, Barton (4th) notched his second goal of the night 2:57 into the stanza from a centering pass from Paul Crowder to bring the Nailers back within a single goal.
Closing out the series, Gill (3-1) made 26 saves, while Killeen (1-3) stopped 23 shots in defeat.
The K-Wings will move on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals to battle either the Gwinnett Gladiators or the South Carolina Stingrays.
Tickets for the K-Wings round one playoff games are $16.05 and $19.95 for adults, $15.05 for seniors (62 years and older) and military (with proper ID) and only $10.05 for kids ages 12 and under. Fans can save money by purchasing K-Wings single game tickets in advance because tickets purchased on the day of a game increase by $1.
Submitted by Mike Modugno