Taking their first lead of the night with 67 seconds remaining in regulation, the Wheeling Nailers defeated the Kalamazoo Wings 4-2 in game one to take a one-game to none lead in the Best-of-Five Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
End-to-end action featured no scoring in the first period. Wheeling outshot Kalamazoo 17-6 in the opening period.
Picking up where he left off in the regular season, Darryl Bootland (1st), who led the K-Wings with 25 goals, earned Kalamazoo’s first goal of the playoffs on the power-play 1:39 into the second period.
Using a power-play goal of its own, Wheeling tied the game at 1-1 late in the middle stanza with a tally from Paul Crowder (1st).
Early in the third period, Nick Sirota (1st) reclaimed a one-goal lead for the K-Wings scoring on a breakaway.
Fighting back midway through the third period, Chris Barton (1st), who led all ECHL rookies in goals scored in the regular season with 28 goals, one-timed a slap shot from between the circles to even the game at 2-2.
The Nailers took their first and only lead of the game with 1:07 remaining in regulation, when Matt Schepke fired a centering pass off the tape of Ben Farrer (1st) for the eventual game-winner.
Andrew Hotham (1st) concluded a game-high three-point (1 goal, 2 assist) performance scoring an empty-net, shorthanded goal with seven seconds remaining.
Riley Gill (0-1) made 35 saves in defeat, while Patrick Killeen (1-0) stopped 25 shots in the victory.
Kalamazoo and Wheeling will continue their Best-of Five Eastern Conference Quarterfinals with game two tomorrow, on Wednesday, April 4th at the WesBanko Arena.
The K-Wings will return home to Wings Stadium on Friday, April 6th at 7:30 p.m. versus the Nailers in game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. During all first round games, the K-Wings are offering special Fan Appreciation 25-cent hot dogs.
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