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Kelly Cup Playoff Preview: K-Wings vs. Nailers

2012KellyCupPlayoffs_390x280About the teams: The Kalamazoo Wings (38-26-2-6) finished first in the North Division and clinched their third consecutive division title in the process. The Wheeling Nailers (37-26-4-5) ended the season with a second place finish in the Atlantic Division. Meeting three times during the regular season, the K-Wings won two of the three contests. The two teams battled in the Eastern Conference Finals last season with the K-Wings taking the series over the Nailers in six games, earning an appearance in the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals where they lost to the Alaska Aces in five games.

Playoff history: The K-Wings have earned a playoff berth in each of their first three seasons in the ECHL and have a 14-10 record. The Nailers are making their 14th appearance in the postseason, which ties them for third in ECHL history and are making their first back-to-back playoff appearances since 1997 and 1998. Their playoff record is 45-46.

Home ice advantage: With their first place finish in the North Division and third seed overall in the playoffs, the K-Wings hold home ice advantage over the Nailers. The K-Wings chose to play the first two games on the road in Wheeling with games 3, 4 and 5 being played at Wings Stadium (games 4 and 5, if necessary). During the regular season, the K-Wings won two of their three meetings on the Nailers home ice while the Nailers won their only game against the K-Wings at Wings Stadium.

Special teams: On the season, the two teams are pretty even when it comes to special teams. In their 16 power play opportunities, the K-Wings scored five goals (31.3%) while the Nailers scored five power play goals in 14 chances (35.7%).

Scoring leaders: Darryl Bootland led the K-Wings with two goals against the Nailers and Justin Taylor had three assists during the regular season (five players tied with three total points). Paul Crowder led the Nailers with two goals and Chris Barton led all players with one goal and three assists against the K-Wings.

On the season: The K-Wings were 18-14-4 on home ice and 20-12-4 while away from Wings Stadium. Faring better at home, the Nailers went 20-13-3 but still did well on the road with a 17-13-6 record. Leading the ECHL in goals scored during the regular season, the K-Wings netted 264 (3.67%), while the Nailers were 11th with 219 (3.04%). Giving up 237 goals (3.29%) the K-Wings ranked 16th overall while the Nailers were sixth with 202 (2.81%). The power play was good to the K-Wings as they finished in a tie for second overall in the league scoring 69 man advantage goals in 304 chances (22.7%) while the Nailers were 10th scoring 46 goals on 270 opportunities (17.0%). On the penalty kill however, the K-Wings were 20th stopping 77.0% and the Nailers were 13th with an 80.8%.

On the airwaves: Listen to the games on WLKM 95.9 FM. Both games one and two will begin at 7:05 pm, with the pregame show beginning at 6:55 pm. Fans can also watch the games live on the America One Network. The link can be found on the K-Wings website (www.kwings.com) on the right hand side. Cost is $9.00.

Kalamazoo WingsWheeling Nailers

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