Kalamazoo (12-11-0-1) vs. Wichita (11-10-3-2)
Listen: 1660 The Fan
Last Time Out:
Chris Collins scored with just over a minutes remaining in the final period, as the K-Wings skated past the Brampton Beast 4-3 on Saturday night. Twice during the course of the night the K-Wings found themselves in single-goal holes but both times Kalamazoo answered back. After Brampton netted the opening goal of the night Justin Taylor got the home team on the board shortly after with a break-away goal to tie the game at 1-1. After Kalamazoo got a tally from Ben Wilson to take a 2-1 lead the Beast answered with a pair of goals of their own. Leading 3-2 heading into the final minute of the second period Kalamazoo got a goal from Reid Gardiner to send the game into the second intermission all tied up. In the third period the game would remain tied, and seemed destined for over time until Chris Collins notched his seventh of the season with 1:03 to play. Collins chipped a puck past the defenseman and recollected it before wristing a shot low blocker side past the goaltender. The goal ended up being the difference as the K-Wings won their third straight 4-3.
Scouting the Thunder:
Sunday is Wichita's lone visit to Kalamazoo this season, and the first of only two meetings between the teams. The Thunder sit in sixth in the Mountain Division, but are only seven points out of first place. Wichita concludes a three-game Central Division swing that began in Fort Wayne on Friday, before seeing the Thunder fall to Cincinnati on Saturday night at US Bank Arena.
Rookie Steven Iacobellis leads the Wichita offense that's averaging just over three goals per game with 27 points (9g, 18a) in 23 games. Ralph Cuddemi leads the Thunder in goals with 13. He's one of only two Thunder skaters to have surpassed the ten goal mark. Stuart Skinner is the only goaltender currently on the Thunder roster to have seen ECHL action this season. The netminder has skated in 16 games, posting a record of 6-7-0-2, with a 2.99 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.
The K-Wings only face the Mountain Division foe twice this season after squaring off with the Thunder six times last year. During the course of last year Kalamazoo hit the ice four times in Wichita, splitting those meetings with the Thunder. At Wings Event Center though the K-Wings were perfect, posting a 2-0-0 record over the Thunder.
Justin Taylor's first period tally against the Beast was the forwards 19th of the season, and tied him for the league lead. Taylor is tied with Utah's Caleb Herbert atop the ECHL scoring race through the first 24 games of the season. The ninth-year pro has surpassed the 20 goal mark in all but two seasons during his professional career.
The Puck Stops Here:
For the third time since joining the K-Wings from Utica (AHL) Ivan Kulbakov made 47 or more saves, while claiming a victory on Saturday night. The 49 save performance from the netminder tied a season-high for Kulbakov. His previous career high is 51 saves, set last season in an overtime victory. Last night's game was also the fifth straight game that the K-Wings had allowed at least 30 shots on goal.
Strong Start to December:
After beginning December with a record of 6-10-0-1, the K-Wings have won six of seven games to start December, and eight of the last nine games to move above .500, and two points out of third place in the Central Division. The K-Wings play a total of 11 home games during December as a part of a 15 game month. Only March sees as many games for the K-Wings. March, however is split with seven games at home, and eight on the road.
Fans are invited to join the K-Wings on the ice following the game for a post-game skate following Sunday’s game. Players will be available to sign autographs as well.