With just three games to go in the regular season, the Kalamazoo Wings are inching closer to locking up spot in the postseason.
On Friday night, the K-Wings kicked off their weekend with a game against the Indy Fuel at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. A goaltender and defensive battle brewed in this contest as neither team was able to score in the first 40 minutes of play. The Fuel scored the game’s first goal at the 7:12 mark of the third period to take a 1-0 lead. The K-Wings were able to tie the game later in the period on a goal by former Fuel captain, Michael Neal. The game remained tied at the end of regulation, sending the game into overtime. With neither team able to seal the deal in OT, the game went into the sudden death shootout, where the Fuel’s Ryan Rupert scored the lone goal, giving the Fuel the win. The K-Wings picked up a point in the contest.
On Saturday night, the K-Wings traveled to Toledo to battle the second place Walleye. After a scoreless first period, the K-Wings hit the scoreboard first as Jimmy Mullin, playing in his first game since October 26th, scored his second goal of the year just 1:25 into the second period.
The K-Wings doubled their lead on the Walleye in the third period with just over five minutes left in the third period as Kyle Blaney scored his 12th of the season to give the K-Wings a 2-0 advantage. Luke Sandler added an empty net goal as time winded down for a 3-0 final. Goaltender Ivan Kulbakov stopped all 27 shots he faced in route to his first professional shutout.
On Sunday, while playing the Wheeling Nailers, two things needed to happen to clinch a berth in the playoffs for the K-Wings. The K-Wings needed two points, coupled with a loss by the Indy Fuel.
The Indy Fuel lost to the Kansas City Mavericks. Unfortunately, so did the K-Wings.
The Nailers scored a goal in the first period, and that was the end of the scoring for the entire game. Jake Hildebrand was in net for the K-Wings, stopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced in the loss.
The K-Wings will wrap up their regular season as they continue their 7-game road trip. On Wednesday night, the K-Wings will face off against the Wichita Thunder and then two games against the Tulsa Oilers on Friday and Saturday nights.
As it stands today, the Cincinnati Cyclones lead the Central Division with a 49-12-5-3 record, good for 106 points. The Toledo Walleye are second with a record of 38-21-6-3 and 85 points. The Fort Wayne Komets are third with 33-25-4-6 (76 points) followed by the K-Wings, 35-29-2-3 (75 points). The Wheeling Nailers trail the K-Wings with 71 points and the Indy Fuel are in sixth place with 70 points.
Submitted by Mark McGlothlen