The Kalamazoo Wings (34-31-4-3) season came to a grinding halt on Sunday afternoon as the Indy Fuel defeated the K-Wings 2-1.
The two teams were fighting for the last playoff spot in the Central Division. Heading into the final game of the season, the Fuel led the K-Wings by just one point. A win would have guaranteed the K-Wings a postseason berth.
“We had the opportunity to be a playoff team in our grasp and we didn’t deliver,” said K-Wings forward Justin Taylor.
According to Taylor, it wasn’t just the last few games that sealed the K-Wings fate, it was missed opportunities down the
stretch. “This goes back weeks ago. Chances to get extra points in games we lost or could have pushed to overtime,” he said. “Ultimately, as good as we looked on paper, we didn’t live up to our expectations as a team.”
On Sunday, the Fuel scored a pair of goals just 40 seconds apart in the first period and kept the K-Wings off the scoreboard until early in the third period. Alex Wideman and Logan Nelson scored for the Fuel.
After a scoreless second, Justin Taylor opened the third period with his 35th goal of the season, but that was all the offense the K-Wings could assemble. The Fuel outshot the K-Wings 34-32 in Sunday’s contest. The only penalties in the game were called in the second period. At the 2:49 mark of the period, Taylor and Brandon Anselmini were called for roughing, with Anselmini earning a double minor. Later in the second, Kyle Bushee was whistled for interference and the Fuel’s Michael Neal earned a hooking call. Neither team was able to score on the mad advantage.
“Simply put bad luck and bad bounces definitely played a factor,” Taylor said. “To be a playoff contender, you need to be able to play in tight games and high pressure situations. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the results we worked for.”
Defenseman Kyle Bushee didn’t feel that the team was suffering from a lack of focus as the team knew what was at stake; making the playoffs. “We just couldn’t find the bounce or the points we needed to clinch a spot,” Bushee said. “It’s tough. We played hard and just couldn’t get the job done.”
Bushee said he was extremely disappointed in the way the season ended for the team. “We had a lot of optimism coming into the year and it just didn’t go our way,” he said.
“You have to give credit to Indy on the year and turnaround they had,” Bushee said.
Reflecting on the season, Bushee said that they (the team) will think of things they could have done differently or on the game they felt they should have won. “It came down to the last game of the year and we came up short,” he said. “It’s tough to swallow.”
Forward Tyler Biggs echoed Bushee’s sentiments. “Looking back, I think it’s natural to want certain games and situations to have ended differently. As a team, I think we deserved better in the end.”
With their season on the line, especially in those last three games this past weekend, Biggs felt it drove the team to work harder knowing they were in a do or die situation.
“We played three hard games and left what we had out there (on the ice),” Biggs said
By: Mark C. McGlothlen