The New Year has not been kind to the Kalamazoo Wings (15-18-0-1) as of yet. After dropping their final contest of 2018 to the Indy Fuel by a score of 6-2, the K-Wings lost both games this past weekend to the Central Division leaders.
With the losses, the K-Wings are in last place in the Central, five points behind Fuel and Wheeling Nailers, who have 36 points each. The Fort Wayne Komets have 39 points and are in third place. The Cincinnati Cyclones lead the division with 50 points while the Toledo Walleye are in second with 49.
To make matters worse, the K-Wings are with several players due to injuries. Goaltender Jake Hildebrand was unavailable this weekend, so the K-Wings signed David DeSander as an emergency back-up. On Friday night, the K-Wings other goaltender, Keegan Asmundson injured himself in the game against the Walleye and was unavailable for Saturday nights contest. The K-Wings then signed Storm Phaneuf, who began the season with the Peoria Rivermen of the SPHL, posting a 6-0-1-0 record with a 1.99 goals against average. Phaneuf was in net for the K-Wings on Saturday.
In addition, the K-Wings are currently without forwards Tyler Biggs, Zach Diamantoni, Brendan Bradley and defenseman Brandon Anselmini and Eric Kattelus. Several of the injuries are day-to-day.
On Friday night, the K-Wings traveled to the Huntington Center to battle the Toledo Walleye (23-8-3-0). The Walleye scored the only goal in the first period as Bryan Moore scored to make it a 1-0 game. Going up by a pair early in the second period, Shane Berschbach netted his 16th of the year to make it a 2-0 lead. The goal was scored on the power play.
Cutting the lead in half minutes later, Brandon Lubin scored his first goal as a K-Wing to make it a 2-1 Walleye lead.
Wasting little time restoring their two-goal lead, Jordan Topping scored a power play goal to give the Walleye a 3-1 just over a minute after the Lubin goal.
Chris Collins scored his 14th of the year in the third for the K-Wings, but the Walleye held on for the 3-2 win.
On Saturday, the K-Wings visited the U.S. Bank Arena, home of the Cincinnati Cyclones. The Cyclones reeled off four straight goals in the first period before Tanner Sorenson scored late in the period for the K-Wings to make it a 4-1 game after the first 20 minutes.
Reid Gardiner scored his 16th of the year while on the power play to cut the lead to 4-2, but the Cyclones came storming back, scoring four straight goals to make it an 8-2 game. Collins added a goal late in the period for an 8-3 Cyclones lead after the second period.
Sorenson added a pair of goals in the third, for the hat trick, but the K-Wings fell to the Cyclones by a score of 8-5.
The Cyclones outshot the K-WIngs 26-19.
The K-Wings return home for a game against the Brampton Beast on Friday, January 11th. Game time is 7:30 pm.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen