WICHITA, KS— The Kalamazoo Wings scored six times, including three power play goals, on their way to a 6-4 triumph over the Wichita Thunder on Saturday night at INTRUST Bank Arena.
Showing much more hop in their step than the night before, the Wings earned the game’s first quality scoring chances. However, it was the Thunder who tallied the night’s first goal. Pushing ahead on an odd-man-rush, Evan Polei took a long shot which was saved by Michael Garteig, but the rebound was punched in by Travis Brown for his seventh of the year.
Later on in the period, the Wings tied the game, courtesy of Justin Taylor’s team-leading 19th of the season. Tyler Biggs forced a steal and knifed the puck to the net, resulting in a stop by Joel Rumpel. The Wichita goaltender couldn’t control the rebound, allowing Taylor to pounce on the loose puck for a point-blank tap-in with under eight minutes remaining in the period. Taylor’s equalizer eventually sent the teams into the first intermission deadlocked at a goal.
Kalamazoo needed only 2:10 of action in the second before they earned a 2-1 advantage. Jimmy Mullin took a shot which was blocked, but the rebound landed on his tape, allowing him to wrap around the net and center a pass to J.T. Stenglein, who one-touched a laser into the top corner of the net.
The Wings’ lead lasted for nine minutes before Travis Ewanyk earned his 11th of the year. Ewanyk started a give-and-go play along the wall, freeing him to dart to the net and stuff a backhand home after receiving a pass from Kevin Dufour.
16 seconds later, the Wings re-gained their lead after Scott Henegar wired a one timer into the top corner of the goal. Tyler Biggs circled the net and found a soft spot along the left wing side, allowing him to find Henegar in the high slot of his sixth of the year.
Two minutes later, the Thunder tied the game with their second goal of the period. While on a power play, Lane Bauer was served a pass from Brown, and he unleashed a wrist shot that flew over the glove of Garteig and in.
Before the period came to a close, the Wings headed to their first power play of the game and capitalized on the man advantage. Biggs whipped a shot to the goal and Taylor parked himself in front of the net to ricochet the blast into the net for his second of the night and 20th of the season. The goal moved Taylor into second place among all ECHL goal scorers.
Early in the third period and leading by a goal, the Wings earned yet another power play try. For the second time on the evening, Kalamazoo used the extra ice to punish the Thunder. Brendan Bradley stood at the edge of the crease, and Aaron Irving angled a perfect feed to Bradley, who turned his stick and tipped in his sixth of the season.
Polei tried to will Wichita back into contention with a goal at the 8:43 mark of the period on a pretty backdoor play which was set up by Brown, but the one-goal gap didn’t last for long.
Kalamazoo silenced any idea of a comeback from Wichita with their third power play goal of the night, late in the third. Garret Cockerill steered the puck to Mullin, who wrapped around the back of the goal and squeezed the puck between the post and the leg of Rumpel for the sixth strike of the night for the Wings.
Garteig made a series of late saves while the Thunder used an extra attacker in the closing minutes to generate a flurry of chances. Garteig’s denials with time ticking down led the Wings to a two-goal victory and the second-year netminder’s third win in his last four starts.
Next: Kalamazoo @ Wichita Thunder- Sunday, January 7, 5:05 p.m., INTRUST Bank Arena.
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.