TOLEDO, OH— The Kalamazoo Wings and Toledo Walleye combined for nine goals in a wild, back-and-forth affair which favored Toledo by a 5-4 final on Sunday night at the Huntington Center.
Similar to their first trip to Toledo, the Wings needed less than two minutes to score their first goal of the night. Charlie Vasaturo dumped the puck in deep and it rolled all the way around to Kyle Bushee at the blue line. His long shot was punched away by the blocker of Pat Nagle, but the rebound landed to the tape of J.T. Stenglein, who swatted a backhand into the net for his first career goal.
Toledo tied the game at one just 2:14 later, as the Walleye established possession on the perimeter in the attacking zone. Patrick McCarron slid a pass to the slot, where Simon Denis stepped up from the point and fired into the top corner of the goal to tie the game at one. The 1-1 stalemate would hold for the remaining 16 minutes of the period.
After withstanding a series of chances in the early goings of the second period, the Wings earned a power play and took advantage with the extra attacker. Eric Kattelus and Lane Scheidl moved in on a two-on-one, allowing Kattelus to feed Scheidl on the right wing for a shot that slipped over the stick-side shoulder of Nagle.
Toledo equalized 1:21 later and while on their first power play of the night. A tic-tac-toe play set up Christian Hilbrich in front of the goal for a one-timer which tied the game at two. The goal extended Hilbrich’s team-leading total to 12.
Shortly thereafter, the Walleye took their first lead of the game on a pinpoint shot by Luke Esposito. Esposito moved up the left wing side and fired a shot from the face-off dot which flew over the short-side shoulder of Michael Garteig and into the goal, pushing Toledo ahead, 3-2.
Entering the third with a one-goal lead, Toledo padded their advantage just 16 seconds into the final period. After a long shot by Charlie O’Connor was stopped by Garteig, Erik Bradford crashed the net and was able to deposit the loose puck for his 6th of the season.
33 seconds after Bradford generated a two-goal lead, the Wings clawed back to within a tally after Brendan Bradley’s fourth of the year. Bradley controlled the puck on the right side of the zone and lifted a drive from an impossible angle which cruised over the shoulder of Nagle and into the goal.
Four minutes later, the Wings tied the game at four goals apiece with a beautiful passing play on the doorstep. Kattleus knuckled a tape-to-tape pass to Taylor, who batted in his team-leading 11th goal of the season with a tap-in on the back door.
With the game tied and in the closing minutes, Toledo mustered up the eventual game winner with quick, transition offense. Racing through center, O’Connor dropped the puck off to Kevin Tansey, who blew one into the top corner with under six minutes to go in regulation. The Wings created chances in the closing minutes with Garteig on the bench for an extra attacker, but couldn’t find a tying strike.
Next: Kalamazoo @ Indy Fuel- Wednesday, December 20, 7:05 p.m., Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
Broadcast information: Wednesday’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.