KALAMAZOO, MI—The Kalamazoo Wings entered the third period trailing by a goal, but a resilient effort in the final 20 minutes saw them erase the deficit and secure a late winner to down the Wichita Thunder, 3-2, on Sunday at Wings Event Center. The win capped off a perfect three-wins-in-three-days weekend for Kalamazoo.
Although the first period featured an entertaining mix of scoring chances, physical play, and great speed, neither team could find the back of the net in the first 20 minutes of play. Joel Martin made all 12 saves required of him in the opening period, and his counterpart Shane Owen made 13 stops of his own.
Tyler Heinonen opened the day’s scoring, just 1:35 into the second period, and gave Kalamazoo a 1-0 lead. A long shot by Charlie Vasaturo was stopped by Owen, but Heinonen was positioned perfectly in front of the goal and spun the rebound into the net for his sixth of the season.
The Thunder finally found their offensive spark in the closing minutes of the second period and pounded home two goals over a 56 second span. Mark MacMillan earned his 11th of the season after following up a broken play and cashing in on an open net. Seconds later, Matt DeBlouw gave Wichita their first lead of the game with his seventh of the season. The Thunder’s two goals with under two minutes remaining in the second period set them up with a one-goal advantage after two periods of play.
Kalamazoo showed no quit in the final frame and began mounting their comeback effort midway through the third period. Kyle Blaney handed the puck along to Justin Taylor at the Wichita blue line, and he found some space, providing him the opportunity to walk to the top of the circle. Once in a threatening area, Taylor reached back and uncorked a slap shot which zipped over the right leg of Owen, tying the game at two.
Five minutes later, Kalamazoo re-gained the lead after a Tyler Biggs shot was on the receiving end of a hometown roll. Biggs’ shot caromed off the glove of Owen, dribbled down to the ice, and trickled off the leg of Wichita netminder and over the line. The goal from Biggs was his eighth of the season and left Kalamazoo ahead by a goal with less than six minutes remaining.
With an extra attacker on the ice in the waning moments, the Wings’ back end slammed the door shut and didn’t allow the Thunder any opportunities to tie the game, sending Kalamazoo into the final horn as 3-2 victors.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. Atlanta Gladiators - Friday, December 15, 7 p.m., Wings Event Center.
Broadcast information: Friday’s game will air on AM 590/FM 106.9 WKZO in Kalamazoo or online at http://player.listenlive.co/29131.
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.