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Resilient Wings erase two deficits on way to divisional victory

Published: 72 days ago


KALAMAZOO, MI— After falling behind on two separate occasions, the Kalamazoo Wings showed resiliency and poise on their way to a 4-3 victory over the Indy Fuel on Saturday night at Wings Event Center.

Just two and a half minutes into the opening frame, Indy’s high-speed attack struck on their first shot of the game. Chris DeSousa turned the puck to the front of the goal, where Josh Shalla was waiting to shuffle home a backhander for his team-leading 22nd of the season.

Five minutes later, Kalamazoo took over the pace of play and dominated in the offensive zone. Generating sustained pressure in the Fuel side of center, Dajon Mingo circled behind the net and fired a tape-to-tape pass to Eric Kattelus, who blasted a one-timer that sailed over the glove of Eric Levine and into the goal. The two teams headed into the first intermission in a 1-1 deadlock.

Early in the second period, the Fuel earned their second lead of the game after a great individual effort from Nick Bligh. The Fuel winger placed a wrist shot on goal from 50 feet away, and as Nick Riopel made the save, he kicked the rebound too far to contain, and Bligh followed it up to chip the puck in.

It was all Wings moving forward, as Kalamazoo rattled off three unanswered goals in the next 18 minutes of gameplay. While shorthanded, Peter Schneider carried the puck through neutral ice and carved through the Indy defense on his way to the goal. Schneider deposited a picture-perfect backhand over the leg of Levine, tying the game at two.

Six minutes later, the Wings established their first lead of the contest after creating a chance from a faceoff victory. After the draw was pulled back to Kattelus, he shifted the puck to Blake Kessel, who snapped a perfect feed to Justin Breton in front of the goal for a chip-in tally.

Early in the third period, the Wings capped off their offensive display with composed passing and gritty net crashing. Tanner Sorenson fired a long shot to the goal that was muscled away by Levine, but Josh Pitt was unmarked and crashed the goal to drive home the Wings’ fourth goal of the night.

Shortly after Pitt bumped the Kalamazoo lead to a pair of goals, Blight drew the Fuel back to within one by firing a blind wrist shot that snuck into the short-side corner of the goal for his second of the night.

Down by a goal with time winding down, Levine was pulled in favor of an extra attacker, but the Kalamazoo defense locked down and withstood the pressure, earning a 4-3 divisional win.

Next: Kalamazoo vs. Ft. Wayne Komets- Sunday, February 12, 3:00 p.m., Wings Event Center.

Broadcast information: Sunday’s game will air on AM 1660 The Fan in Kalamazoo or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live.

Notes: Kyle Bushee became the 38th player in ECHL history to play 500 career games in the league… Schneider’s goal was his first since 12/18 vs. Quad City…Kattelus’s goal was his first since 12/7 at Quad City… Kalamazoo’s 46 shots on goal were the second most in a single game this season… Riopel made 29 saves and earned his fourth straight win… Eleven of Kalamazoo’s 16 skaters had points.

Stats: http://www.echl.com/game-summary?game_id=14445

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.

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