TOLEDO, OH— After being tied for all but 5:21 of game time entering the final three minutes of regulation, the Kalamazoo Wings and Toledo Walleye combined for a wild finish as the Walleye earned a 3-2 victory on Friday at the Huntington Center.
For the third time in three games in Toledo this season, Kalamazoo scored the game’s opening goal. Using his great speed along the left wing side, Jimmy Mullin slipped the puck between his own legs to free space against the defender and drove the net. Mullin displayed tremendous patience to draw the Toledo goaltender, Matej Machovski, off his line, opening a window for Mullin to slide home his sixth goal of the year.
Five minutes later, the Walleye erased the deficit and knotted up the game at a goal apiece. Daniel Gentzler centered a pass from the right side, and it landed on the stick of Kyle Bonis, who spun a long wrist shot that leaked through the legs of Joel Martin.
The second period was a high-paced, back-and-forth stanza, with the goaltenders dominating the play. Martin turned in a 15-save performance and his counterpart made seven of his own. Kalamazoo were forced to kill two penalties during the period and were able to hold the league’s best home power play at bay on both occasions. The defensive period yielded no goals and the teams headed into the second intermission tied at one.
A tightly contested first 17 minutes of the third period set the tone for a wild finish down the stretch of regulation. Toledo took their first lead of the night with 2:30 remaining in the frame, as Mike Borkowski sailed a blind shot from the right point that hit a body in front and beat Martin.
Trailing by a goal, the Wings drew a penalty and went to the power play in the final two minutes. With Martin on the bench, the Wings had two extra attackers, and used the manpower to equalize the score at a pair. Kyle Bushee drove down the left wing and into the corner, where he found space to center a pass to Josh Pitt. Pitt one-touched the feed over the glove side of Machovski and scored what looked like an overtime-forcing goal.
Just 25 seconds later, Toledo threw a mad scramble to the front of the goal and generated the game winner with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game. Tyler Barnes pushed the puck to the net, resulting in a scrum that allowed Christian Hilbrich to sneak in and jam it past the leg of Martin and earn the victory.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. Quad City Mallards- Sunday, December 31, 3 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.
Single-game tickets are on sale! Tickets start as low as $10 and can be purchased at http://kwings.com/SingleGameTickets or at the Wings Event Center box office.
Wings Event Center, owned and operated by Greenleaf Hospitality Group, is home to the Kalamazoo Wings professional hockey team 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.