Published: 63 days ago
TOLEDO, OH—The Kalamazoo Wings bowed out of the Kelly Cup Playoffs after suffering a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Toledo Walleye on Tuesday night at the Huntington Center. The Walleye won the best-of-seven series, 4-3, and will advance to the second round.
Feeling each other out in the first 20 minutes, game seven started with a high-intensity pace and a flurry of chances from both clubs. The goaltenders were the difference makers in the first period, as Kalamazoo’s Joel Martin made nine stops on nine shots and Jake Paterson of the Walleye warded off each of the 13 first-period shots from the Wings.
Less than three minutes into the second period and after a series of chances by the Wings, Paterson skated to the bench and removed himself from the game for what appeared to be a medical reason. He was replaced in net by Jeff Lerg.
Later on, the Walleye tallied the first goal of the night after counter-attacking off a Wings’ turnover in the offensive zone. A.J. Jenks ripped through center ice on a two-on-one with Kyle Bonis, and Jenks feathered a pass to the slot for Bonis to angle his stick and deflect into the top corner of the goal.
The Walleye lead lasted only 52 seconds, as the Wings roared right back and equalized off an offensive zone faceoff. Tyler Biggs pulled the puck back to Kyle Blaney, who dished it along to the point to Charlie Vasaturo. Vasaturo’s shot deflected off a leg in front of the goal and changed directions enough to slip past Lerg and into the net.
A 1-1 tie through two periods set the tone for a thrilling finish of the decisive game seven. Midway through the frame, Toledo broke the tie by sailing the puck up the ice and using their speed. Evan Rankin fielded a bouncing puck in center and shimmied his way towards the goal, where his quick wrist shot hit the far-side post and went in.
Adding to their lead just 37 seconds later, the Walleye built a two-goal cushion after Zach Nastasiuk raced through the neutral zone during a Kalamazoo line change, carried to the net, and then pocketed the puck into the corner for his third of the playoffs.
Trailing by a pair, the Wings pulled Martin to the bench in favor of an extra attacker, but the late-game pressure poured on the Toledo goal wouldn’t break through, as the Walleye skated to a 3-1 victory in the seventh game of the series.
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.