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Wings fall victim to furious Mallards' comeback

Tuesday, January 23rd
Wings fall victim to furious Mallards' comeback

KALAMAZOO, MI—The Kalamazoo Wings had a three-goal lead in the final three minutes of regulation, but the Quad City Mallards pulled of the unlikeliest of comebacks during Kalamazoo’s 5-4 shootout loss Saturday at Wings Event Center.

Picking up where they left of a night before, the Wings needed only 4:11 of gameplay to earn the first goal of the night. Winning a faceoff in the offensive zone, Josh Pitt got the puck back to Sean O’Rourke, who fired a long wrister from the line. His shot was re-directed in front by Tyler Heinonen, whose tip sailed past Jake Paterson and into the back of the net for the lone tally of the first period.

After ten choppy minutes passed in the second period, Kalamazoo added to their advantage, courtesy of Charlie Vasaturo’s first goal of the season. Winning another offensive-zone draw, Pitt pulled the puck back to Vasaturo, who wasted no time before uncorking a slap shot which flew over the glove of Paterson and into the top corner.

Less than three minutes later, Kalamazoo earned an insurance tally after seamless transition offense through the neutral zone. Kyle Blaney knocked down the puck and gained the Mallards’ zone on the left side. He patiently waited for Tyler Biggs to join the rush before feeding him a high-slot feed, allowing Biggs to scope the top shelf for his 11th of the year.

The Wings’ 3-0 lead set the tone for what was a wild third period, beginning with Keegan Kolesar’s power play goal at the 2:29 mark. Kolesar earned his fourth of the season after a nice passing play from Sam Warning set up Kolesar near the net of Joel Martin.

Kalamazoo re-gained their three-goal lead just two and a half minutes later on a seeing-eye shot from Aaron Irving. Hauling in the puck along the left wing side, Irving spun the puck to the goal from a tight angle and elevated it over the stick-side shoulder of Paterson and into the net.

With under three minutes remaining, Matt Pohlkamp earned a breakaway after a long clearance from the Quad City defensive end landed on his tape. Pohlkamp walked in uncontested and flung a wrist shot under the glove of Martin to make it 4-2 in the closing minutes.

Pulling Paterson in favor of an extra attacker, Kolesar narrowed the margin to a goal with his second of the night and fourth in two games against Kalamazoo. He walked across the middle of the ice with the puck on his backhand and wired a try into the top corner, beating Martin.

Down by a goal and with Paterson again on the bench, Quad City controlled in the Wings’ zone and eventually generated the tying goal. Kyle Follmer reeled in a pass at the blue line and rifled a slap shot through traffic and around a screened Martin to deadlock the game at four with 1:03 remaining in regulation.

Follmer’s goal eventually forced overtime, but neither team could break the tie in the sudden death period. The 65-minute stalemate required a shootout to determine a winner.

After both teams were held scoreless in the first six rounds of the shootout, Chris Izmirlian hopped over the wall and registered the game winner for the Mallards. His quick shot beat Martin to the stick side and capped off the unlikely comeback by the visitors.

Next: Kalamazoo vs. Indy Fuel- Sunday, January 21, 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.

Stats: https://www.echl.com/stats/game-center/15441

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.

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