GWINNETT, GA— The Kalamazoo Wings got back into the win column after a wire-to-wire performance produced a 4-3 win against the Atlanta Gladiators on Wednesday at Infinite Energy Arena.
Skating through a tightly-contested first period, the Wings were on the receiving end of a generous bounce in the closing minutes and produced the opening frame’s only tally. Kyle Blaney controlled the puck along the right wing side and went to rifle a backdoor pass, only to see it deflected off a defender’s stick. The re-directed puck sailed in the air, over the head of Dan Vladar, off his blocker and into the goal. It was Blaney’s 10th of the season and sent the Wings into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Needing less than a minute of the second period to go ahead by two, Justin Taylor improved his team lead in goals with his 32nd of the season. As Danny Moynihan gained the Atlanta line, he fired a long shot to the goal which was kicked away by Vladar. The rebound landed straight to the tape of Taylor, who one-touched it into the back of the goal.
42 seconds later, Atlanta used a quick transition play to cut the Wings’ lead back to a single goal. Darby Llewelyn walked up the right wing and fired a rink-wide pass to Todd Skirving for a one-time tally.
Before the period came to a close, a costly turnover by Vladar gave Kalamazoo a two-goal lead. Vladar came out of his net to play the puck, but he turned it over directly to Scott Henegar, who twisted to his forehand and slid home his 11th of the season. Henegar’s late goal put Kalamazoo ahead by a 3-1 margin through the first forty minutes of the game.
Continuing their control of the game into the third period, the Wings finished off a glorious passing play in the attacking zone and went ahead by a game-high three goals. Ben Wilson moved in behind the net, dished to the wing for Josh Pitt, who threaded a backdoor feed to Brendan Bradley for a tap-in finish.
Four minutes later, Atlanta showed a flash of offensive firepower over the course of an eleven-second span. Derek Nesbitt finished off a nice passing play with a one-timer to start the scoring, and Llewelyn cashed in on a Kalamazoo turnover 11 seconds later to make it a one-goal game in the blink of an eye.
Kalamazoo settled down on the defensive end in the closing minutes and Michael Garteig made a series of late stops to keep the Wings ahead throughout the remainder of regulation.
Next: Kalamazoo @ Norfolk Admirals- Friday, March 30, 7 p.m., Norfolk Scope.
Broadcast information: Friday’s game will air on AM 590/FM 106.9 WKZO 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.