It wasn’t quite do or die for that Kalamazoo Wings on Monday night at Wings Event Center, but a 5-3 win over the South Carolina Stingrays will hopefully give the K-Wings some momentum as the two teams head to South Carolina for the reminder of the best-of-seven series.
Justin Kovacs scored two goals on Monday night, including a power play goal and Zach Phillips also scored a pair, including an empty net goal, while Alex Mallet added a power play goal of his own in the win.
The K-Wings were outshot in the first three games by a 115-67 margin and South Carolina scored 12 goals to the K-Wings 8.
Head coach Nick Bootland said that the team was not playing up to their potential in the first two games, but that all changed in Game Three.
“We didn’t stray and that was the important thing,” Bootland said following the K-Wings victory. “We didn’t stray from our plan, we didn’t stray from the compete level that we started that game with. Thats how we have to compete to have a chance to beat this South Carolina team.”
In order to keep the good times rolling, Bootland said the K-Wings need to compete and compete hard.
“We have to be prepared to compete and leave everything we have on the ice,” Bootland said. “We have got to feel banged up, and we’ve got to feel like crap when its all said and done because we worked so hard and are so exhausted. There isn’t a guy in that locker room that didn’t give everything they have tonight. And thats the only way you will have a chance to beat a team that has as much depth as they do.”
The K-Wings win ended the Stingrays 18- game unbeaten streak. With the series headed to South Carolina for the remainder of the series, Bootland knows his team has its work cut out for them.
Being down two games to one doesn’t matter to Bootland.
The big thing is 2-1, it doesn’t matter how we got here,” Bootland said. “We’re in a 2-1 situation, obviously we would have liked to win another at home before we go down there to that tough environment and play on their surface where they were outstanding this season, you know, we don’t have control over that anymore. We dug ourselves that hole.”
The K-Wings headed out of town Tuesday and will practice on the ice in South Carolina Wednesday. Game Four will be played Thursday, with Game Five set for Saturday. If needed, Games Six and Seven will be Sunday and Tuesday.
Submitted by Mark McGlothlen