Published: 148 days ago
KALAMAZOO, MI—Josh Pitt’s hat trick paced the Kalamazoo Wings to a 5-3 victory over the Norfolk Admirals on Friday night at Wings Event Center. With the victory, the Kalamazoo Wings became the fourth and final team from the Central Division to clinch a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Catching the Wings off guard and coming out with a hard-to-match speed to their game, the Admirals earned the night’s first goal by creating a two-on-one rush towards Kalamazoo goalie Nick Riopel. Carrying over the line, Joey Benik floated a pass to T.J. Foster, who one-timed the puck past Riopel’s glove for a 1-0 Admirals’ lead.
After seesawing though the next ten minutes, Kalamazoo earned a power play and punished Norfolk with spectacular puck movement. Eric Kattelus found Justin Taylor, who slipped a backhanded feed to the front of the goal for Josh Pitt. Pitt tapped the puck into the corner of the goal and equalized the game at one.
Later on in the frame, the Wings worked for their first lead with a faceoff play in the Admirals’ end. Taylor won a draw and found Tanner Sorenson along the right wing wall, and he carried towards the goal and lifted a short-side wrister that snuck into an air-tight window for his 17th tally of the season.
Leading by a goal and midway through the second period, Kalamazoo tacked on to their advantage by creating havoc in front of Norfolk’s Philippe Desrosiers. Blake Kessel swept the puck to the goal, forcing Desrosiers to make a save, but he left the rebound loose in the crease for Pitt to crash and tap in for his second of the night. It was the only marker of the second period, and the Wings entered the second intermission with a 3-1 lead.
Early in the third period, the Admirals were on the receiving end of a fortuitous bounce, and cut the Wings’ lead to a goal. Foster was crammed in the right corner of the Kalamazoo zone and went to flush the puck to the slot area, but it angled off Riopel’s skate and into the goal.
47-seconds later, the Wings cracked their lead back open to two goals after Cameron Darcy’s crafty individual effort. Darcy walked in towards the goal, used a head fake to draw Desrosiers off his line, and angled the puck into the glove side corner.
Less than a minute later, the wide-open pace continued and Norfolk struck for their third goal of the game. Creating a net-front scramble in front of Riopel, the Admirals capitalized on an unoccupied puck in front of the net. Nick MacNeil spotted the loose puck and raced towards the crease to hammer in his 12th of the season.
Putting the game out of reach, Pitt finished off his hat trick with a jaw-dropping move around a Norfolk defender. Pitt slipped the puck between the legs of Trevor Gerling, and waltzed his way to the goal to cash in on a backhander. The goal gave the Wings a two-goal edge that they held throughout the remainder of the game, en route to a 5-3 triumph.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. Norfolk Admirals- Saturday, March 24, 7:00 p.m., Wings Event Center.
Broadcast information: Saturday’s game will air on AM 1660 the Fan in Kalamazoo or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live.
Notes: Kalamazoo notched a playoff berth for the fourth straight year and for the eighth time under the direction of Nick Bootland… Riopel is 13-2-0 in his last 15 starts… Peter Schneider extended his point streak to eight games… Pitt’s four points sets a season high for a Kalamazoo skater…Kalamazoo went 1/1 on the power play and went 2/2 on the penalty kill.
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.