Kalamazoo (5-10-0-1) at Reading (7-6-2-4)
Listen: 1660 The Fan
Last Time Out:Ivan Kulbakov stopped 47 shots in his second start as a K-Wing, and Justin Taylor added a pair of goals as Kalamzoo topped Wheeling 6-4 on Tuesday night. The home side quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period before surrendering back-to-back goals to the Nailers. Both of Wheeling's goals, coming from Renars Krastenbergs in the opening frame, cut the lead to 3-2 after the first 20 minutes of play. In the middle frame Taylor's first of the night gave the K-Wings a two-goal lead once again, as he tipped a Kyle Thomas shot in front of the cage. Trailing by two in the final frame Wheeling came back within a goal courtesy of Winston Day Chief, but that was as close as they would get to Kalamazoo. Consecutive goals from Justin Taylor and Aleksandr Mikulovich gave the K-Wings a three goal lead late. Day Chief would add his second of the night with less than two minutes to play cutting the lead back to two goals, but it was too little too late for the Nailers.
Kalamazoo effectively snapped their six-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory over division foe Wheeling.
Old Face, New Place:After signing a contract a week ago, Kalamazoo activated forward Tanner Sorenson off of reserve on Wednesday afternoon, making him eligible to play in Friday's game. Sorenson, who spent two seasons with Kalamazoo from 2015-17, returns to North America after spending last season overseas. He also began this season in Switzerland netted five points in eight games. The Anchorage, AK native was named an alternate for the ECHL All-Star game during his most recent stint with the K-Wings when he netted 43 points (20g, 23a) in 71 games.
In other notable moves for Kalamazoo since Tuesday, defenseman Brandon Anselmini was recalled to the Utica Comets, while Reid Gardiner was reassigned to Kalamazoo. Gardiner, who had five points (2g, 3a) in six games prior to his recall, returns to Kalamazoo in time to face a former divisional opponent (Reading) and his former team (Wheeling). In ten games against the Royals last season Gardiner put up eight points (3g, 5a) in ten games.
Getting Reacquainted:Friday’s matchup is the only meeting of the season between Kalamazoo and Reading, and the first meeting since the 2015-16 season. The K-Wings were victorious during the most recent meeting and have led the series in recent history. In the last five seasons the K-Wings have the slight edge posting a record of 7-6-0-1 against the Royals.
Scouting the Royals:Reading enters Friday's match up after falling on Wednesday night in Portland to North Division foe Maine 4-1. Sitting in fourth place in the North Division, the Royals enter the weekend with only a pair of victories in their last ten games. Reading is led offensively in points and goals by returner Steven Swavely, who tops the squad with 20 points (10g, 10a) in 19 games. Right behind him is fellow returner Michael Huntebrinker with 17 points (5g, 12a), however Huntebrinker was not in the lineup Wednesday in Portland. Reading has used a quartet of goaltenders this season.
Branden Komm and Austin Lotz are the current duo active for the Royals, and have combined to appear in 13 games this season. Komm (10gp) has shouldered the load posting a record of 5-1-1-0, alongside a 2.58 goals against average, and a .921 save percentage.
Rare Eastern Confernce Opponent:Reading is one of only three opponents from the Eastern Conference that the K-Wings will play this season. Reading joins Adirondack (1gm), and Brampton (3gm) as the only non-Western Confernce teams Kalamazoo sees this season.