Published: 65 days ago
KALAMAZOO, MI—The Kalamazoo Wings erased a 2-0 first period deficit with four unanswered goals as they raced to a 4-3 victory over the Toledo Walleye in game six of their best-of-seven Central Division Semi-Finals series on Sunday at Wings Event Center. The victory forces a decisive game seven on Tuesday at the Huntington Center in Toledo.
Though Kalamazoo came out of the opening draw with great speed and energy, Toledo were the first to strike. After winning a faceoff in the attacking zone, Nolan Zajac slid the puck across to Landon Oslanski, who blasted a one-timer that slid past the outstretched leg of Joel Martin.
Building upon their lead just three minutes later, the Walleye used an odd-man-rush up the ice to double their advantage. Zajac moved ahead to join the rush and ended a tic-tac-toe play with a feed to the tape of Zach Nastasiuk, who tapped in his second of the playoffs.
Before the period came to a close, the Wings cranked up the dial and tallied their first goal of the game. Eric Kattelus held the puck at the top of the left circle in the Toledo zone and waited for Blake Kessel to find a soft spot in the Walleye defense. Once Kessel was free, Kattelus fired him a tape-to-tape feed that Kessel flew into the back of the goal for his third of the playoffs. The goal sent the Wings to the locker room after a period of play facing a 2-1 deficit.
Kalamazoo dominated the pace of play in the second period and the results followed, as the Wings evened the game at two in the early stages. Cam Darcy pushed the puck to the high slot, and Lane Scheidl battled his way through a web of stick checks before sliding a blind backhander through his legs and beyond the pads of Jake Paterson for the equalizer.
Building upon the momentum, Kalamazoo earned their first lead of the night with under seven minutes remaining in the second period. Tyler Biggs knifed the puck towards the net, and after it was kept out by the Toledo defense, it bounced straight to the stick of Brian Hart, who hammered a follow-up try into the net for his fourth of the playoffs.
Less than five minutes later, Kalamazoo added some insurance, as Josh Pitt was in the right place at the right time during a net-front scramble. Pitt, who missed most of the second period while getting stitches in the locker room, crashed the mayhem in the slot and spotted the loose puck, rattling it into the net and building a two-goal lead for the home team heading into the third period.
Late in regulation and trailing by two goals, the Walleye earned their first power play of the contest. Setting up around the perimeter, Toledo drove the puck to the net, with each try being warded off by Martin. With a mass of skaters in front of the goal, Tyson Spink moved in from the top of the circle and ripped a wrist shot through the screens to cut the Wings’ lead to 4-3.
With time ticking down and Paterson on the bench for an extra attacker, the Wings sealed the defensive end of the ice and withstood the furious chances from the Walleye. Kalamazoo held tough down the stretch and earned the 4-3 victory, forcing a decisive game seven on Tuesday.
Next: Kalamazoo @ Toledo Walleye, Round One-Game Seven (best-of-seven series)- Tuesday, April 25, 7:35 p.m., Huntington Center.
Broadcast information: Tuesday’s game will air on AM 1660 The Fan in Kalamazoo or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live.
Notes: The best-of-seven series is tied 3-3… Each team is undefeated on their home ice during the series…Martin made 28 saves in the victory…Tuesday is the first game seven in the Wings’ ECHL history…Darcy is tied for the ECHL playoff lead with 10 points… Justin Taylor left the game during the third period due to injury and didn’t return…Kessel is tied for the league lead among defenseman in goals during the playoffs with three… Pitt’s four goals tie for first among all ECHL rookies during the playoffs.
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.