After falling to the Fort Wayne Komets by a score of 2-1 on Thursday night, the Kalamazoo Wings (15-15-0-1) traveled back to Wings Event Center to close out 2018.
On Friday night, the K-Wings battled with the Wheeling Nailers. After taking a 4-1 lead over the Nailers, the game took a crazy turn at the end of the second period resulting in a 4-4 tie. The Nailers took the lead in the third period before the K-Wings came back to tie and then win the game in the closing seconds. In all, there were 11 goals scored, 79 shots on goal, five power play goals, a hat trick, three fights and 106 penalty minutes.
Taking control in the first period, the K-Wings reeled off three goals in the first 14 minutes to take a 3-0 lead. Eric Kattelus scored the first goal of the night, a power play tally, just over three minutes into the game. Justin Taylor followed seven minutes later with his 21st goal of the year. Taylor leads the entire ECHL with 21 goals. Kyle Bushee gave the K-Wings a 3-0 lead with his fourth of the season, a wrist shot, the flew past Nailers netminder Matt O’Connor.
The Nailers would get on the board late in the period as Alex Rauter scored to make it a 3-1 game.
Regaining their three goal lead in the second period, Reid Gardiner scored at the 7:32 mark of the period to make it a 4-1 K-Wing advantage.
After a relatively quiet remainder of the period, the Nailers came alive in the closing minutes, thanks in part to a seldom used maneuver while on the power play.
With just over two minutes remaining in the second period and the K-Wings Luke Sandler serving a two-minute minor for roughing, the Nailers pulled their goaltender for a 6-4 man advantage. The gamble paid off as the Nailers Michael Phillips scored to cut the K-Wings lead in half. Just 47 seconds later the Nailers struck again as Mark Petaccio scored to make it a 4-3 game. Keeping the momentum on their side, the Nailers were able to score another goal just 22 seconds later to tie the game 4-4. Phillips scored his second of the night.
The score remained tied until the 7:49 mark of the third period when the Nailers took a 5-4 lead on a goal by Cedric LaCroix. Gardiner struck again later in the period to tie the game 5-5. With just 9.1 seconds left in the game, Gardiner notched the hat trick as he scored his third goal of the game to give the K-Wings the lead and eventual victory.
On Saturday night, the K-Wings came up just short mounting a come from behind victory over the visiting Toledo Walleye.
The Walleye led after the first period by a 3-2 score. Wade Murphy and Chris Collins scored for the K-Wings. The two teams exchanged goals in second period with Tyler Ganly scoring his second of the year for the K-Wings. Gardiner added his fourth goal in two games, scoring on the power play with just under six minutes to go in the game to cut the Walleye lead to a single goal, 5-4. A furious attempt in the closing minutes did not yield the K-Wings a goal, as they were defeated by the Walleye.
As of Sunday, the Cincinnati Cyclones lead the Central Division with 46 points. The Walleye are in second with 44. The Fuel and Nailers both have 32 points while the K-Wings and Komets have 31 points.
The K-Wings will host the Indy Fuel on Monday, December 31st at 3 pm, for their annual New Years Eve Game.
The K-Wings announced on Sunday that they completed a trade with the Wheeling Nailers for goaltender Keegan Asmundson. Asmundson, who started the season in Kalamazoo, was released when K-Wings affiliate, the Utica Comets, sent down netminder Ivan Kulbakov. Kulbakov was recalled to the Comets and the K-Wings have been using emergency goaltender David DeSander in the meantime. The trade was for future considerations.
Submitted by Mark McGlothlen