Kalamazoo (15-14-0-1) vs Toledo (20-6-2-0)
Listen: 1660 The Fan
Last Time Out:
Reid Gardiner capped off a hat trick with 9.1 seconds left in regulation to catapult the K-Wings past his former team on Friday as Kalamazoo beat Wheeling 6-5. Kalamazoo used a pair of power play goals in the first period to jump out to a 3-1 victory after the first period of play. That lead grew to 4-1 midway through the second stanza before the Nailer offense buzzed to life. Wheeling scored three times in a 1:09 span during the final two minutes of the second to tie the game up heading into the second intermission. In the third the Nailers claimed the lead for the first time at the 7:49 mark of the period. Trailing 5-4 Reid Gardiner provided the offensive fire power the K-Wings would need the rest of the way. Gardiner notched his second goal of the night to tie the game with just under six minutes to play. After Dan Fick was called for a trip with less than two minutes to play in regulation the K-Wings power play was presented a chance to take the lead late and capitalized. Reid Gardiner took a one-time feed from Kyle Bushee and ripped it past Matt O'Connor with 9.1 seconds left to take a 6-5 lead. Gardiner's hat trick goal was the final tally of the night as the K-Wings skated out with a 6-5 victory.
The K-Wings are still looking for their first victory of the season against the Walleye as the teams prepare for the fourth of 12 meetings this season. Each of the first three meetings have come at Wings Event Center so far. Chris Collins (2g, 1a) and Reid Gardiner (3a) lead the K-Wings with three points in the season series. Overall six different players have scored at least a goal against the Walleye for Kalamazoo. On the other side, former K-Wing Shane Berschbach leads Toledo with six points (2g, 4a) against Kalamazoo through the first three meetings. AJ Jenks and Greg Wolfe (1g, 4a) each rank second on the team with five points. Kalamazoo currently trails Toledo by 11 points in the Central Division Standings.
Reid Gardiner became the first K-Wing and 16th ECHL skater to record a hat trick this season on Friday night. The hat trick was Gardiner's second of his career. His previous hat trick came on January 20 against the Worcester Railers as a member of the Wheeling Nailers. In each of the last two seasons the K-Wings have had four separate players record a single hat trick during the season, and no one has notched more than a single hat trick. Gardiner also extended his point-streak to 10 games, tying a career high. During the ten game stretch Gardiner has totaled 18 points (8g, 10a).
Friday night Kalamazoo set season highs in shots on goal (45), shots in a period (20), power play goals (3), and tied a season high for goals (6). Prior to Friday night the K-Wings had reached the 40 shot marker on one occasion but had never surpassed it. The 20 shots taken by the K-Wings in the middle period also set a season high, surpassing the previous high of 18 set earlier in the season against Cincinnati. Prior to last night the K-Wings had scored a pair of power play goals in the same game on five occasions, but had never surpassed that.
Game of Thrones Night:
Both Kalamazoo and Toledo will be wearing special jerseys tonight celebrating the popular TV series Game of Thrones. The Wings Watch jerseys worn by Kalamazoo will be auctioned off following the game, however fans will have to wait until the week of January 7 to take them home. Kalamazoo will wear the jerseys once again in Toledo on Jan. 4 for the Walleye's Game of Thrones Night.
The K-Wings wrap up a crazy December on New Year's Eve as they welcome the Indy Fuel back to Wings Event Center. The NYE showdown is set to begin at 3:00pm.