Published: 7 days ago
KALAMAZOO, MI—The Kalamazoo Wings used three-point nights from three different skaters and a season-high 53 shots on net to erase three separate deficits and win game three of the best-of-seven Central Division Semi-Finals against the Toledo Walleye on Tuesday night at Wings Event Center.
After being heavily outshot in the opening minutes, the Walleye made the best of one of their five first period shots. Kyle Bonis pushed the puck forward and fired a high backhander that froze Nick Riopel and ended in the top corner of the net.
With under two minutes remaining in the period and continuing their relentless assault of Toledo goaltender Jake Paterson, the Wings perseverance paid off. After holding the puck at the line, Eric Kattelus knuckled it towards the net, where Justin Taylor re-directed the drive for his first of the postseason. Kalamazoo and Toledo went into the first intermission tied at one, as the Wings outshot their opponent, 20-5.
Starting the second period on the power play, Toledo used the extra space on the ice to their advantage and opened up another one-goal lead. Bonis settled in behind the Kalamazoo net and went to center a pass, but the puck redirected off the skate of a Wings’ defender and ended up over the goal line.
The Wings displayed resiliency as the period rolled on and, on their second power play try of the evening, tied the game at a pair of goals. Cam Darcy started a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with a pass to Kattelus, who flushed the puck into the high slot for a one-timer off the tape of Peter Schneider for his second goal of the series.
Seven minutes later, the Walleye got right back on the board and earned their third separate lead of the game. Evan Rankin continued his tear in the first round and netted his fourth of the series at the 13:21 mark of the second period and set the tone for a thrilling final twenty minutes.
Trailing by a goal for the third time of the game, the Wings erased the deficit in the first 5:36 of the third period. Darcy battled his way through a series of stick checks, protected the puck along the wall, and feathered it to the front of the net for Schneider to tap through Paterson for his second strike of the game.
45 seconds later, the Wings tallied their fourth goal of the night and earned their first lead of the outing. Blake Kessel pinched from his defensive position and lifted the puck off the tape of a Walleye skater before sailing a backhander into the top corner.
Showcasing their quick-strike ability, the Walleye trailed for only two minutes before pulling neck-and-neck. A swift counter-attack through center allowed Shane Berschbach to find Dane Walters at the doorstep for the equalizer.
With under three minutes to go in regulation, the Wings nailed down the defensive end of the ice and used a well-timed steal in their own zone to race down the ice and set up a high-slot one-timer by Brian Hart. The blast caught Paterson out of position, giving Kalamazoo a 5-4 lead with time winding down.
Toledo pulled Paterson to the bench for an extra attacker and turned up the pressure, but a blocked shot by a Kalamazoo skater led to an odd-man attack where Darcy found Schneider for the empty net tally that capped off Schneider’s hat trick and the Wings’ victory.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. Toledo Walleye, Round One-Game Four (best-of-seven series)- Wednesday, April 19, 7:00 p.m., Wings Event Center.
Broadcast information: Wednesday’s game will air on AM 1660 The Fan in Kalamazoo or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live.
Notes: Toledo leads the best-of-seven series 2-1… Schneider’s hat trick was his second of the year…Kalamazoo set a season high with 53 shots on goal… Every skater for Kalamazoo registered at least one shot on goal… Darcy, Kattelus, and Schneider each had three points…Schneider has points in 17 straight games dating back to March 5.
Single-game tickets are on sale! Tickets start as low as $10 and can be purchased at www.kwings.com/tickets/schedule or at the Wings Event Center box office.
Wings Event Center, owned and operated by Greenleaf Hospitality Group, is home to the minor league hockey team Kalamazoo Wings and a full entertainment venue offering concerts, sporting events, family shows and trade shows. Built in 1974, Wings Event Center values partnerships with the community to bring events and attractions that enrich the lives of residents in the Kalamazoo area.