The Kalamazoo Wings (7-11-2-0) split a pair of weekend games in Wheeling, West Virginia, as they battled division foe, the Wheeling Nailers (9-10-4-0).
On Friday, the K-Wings jumped out to a quick lead as Yannick Veilleux scored the first goal of the night just 2:51 into the opening period. Justin Taylor, in his first game back after spending the past few weeks with the Utica Comets in the AHL and Eric Kattelus, earned the assists.
The Nailers answered that goal in a big way, scoring three of their own goals in just 1:47, to take a 3-1 lead in the first five minutes of the game.
Zach Saar brought the K-Wings back to within a goal with his first of the season while on the power play, but that was all the offense the K-Wings displayed.
The Nailers went on to score three more goals, including a hat trick by Brandon Hawkins, to defeat the K-Wings 6-2.
The K-Wings, who out shot the Nailers 29-26 on the night, went 1-for-7 on the power play while the Nailers went 1-for-5. The Nailers also added a short-handed goal. Jake Hildebrand was in net for the K-Wings.
On Saturday, the K-Wings turned it around by putting on a solid goal-tending and defensive show against the Nailers.
Allowing just one shot on goal in the first and seven in the second, the K-Wings skated away with a 4-1 victory. The first shot of the game for the Nailers came with just 20 seconds left in the opening period.
Boston Leier scored his sixth goal of the season early in the first period for the 1-0 K-Wing advantage. The goal by Leier was scored on the power play. Matt VanVoorhis scored his first of the season and of his professional career just minutes later to put the K-Wings up by a 2-0 margin.
Midway into the second period, Ben Wilson scored his first of the year to give the K-Wings a 3-0 lead.
Allowing just eight shots in the first 40 minutes, the Nailers attempted a comeback in the third by putting 17 shots on net. One of those shots produced a goal for the Nailers as Yushiroh Hirano scored to make it a 3-1 game.
With just under four minutes remaining in the game, the Nailers pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker. The K-Wings were quick to use that to their advantage as Leier scored his second of the game into the empty net.
Jake Kielly was in net for the K-Wings turning away 24 of the 25 shots he faced.
The K-Wings play three more games on the road before returning home this Sunday for a 3:00 pm game against the Cincinnati Cyclones. The game is the K-Wings annual “Pucks and Paws” game where fans are encouraged to bring their dogs to the game. Tickets for the dogs are $5. The K-Wings play the Cyclones this Wednesday and Friday and then face the Indy Fuel on Saturday for the first time this season.
Submitted by Mark McGlothlen