Kalamazoo (6-10-0-1) at Wheeling (7-9-1-0)
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Last Time Out:
A late tally from Colin Jacobs helped the K-Wings secure a second straight victory as they topped Reading 6-4 on Friday night. The match up, the lone one of the season between Reading and Kalamazoo, got off to another fast start for the K-Wings as they scored two power play goals in the first six minutes of play to take an early lead. That lead would grow to three by the end of the period, as goals from Wade Murphy, Zach Saar, and Reid Gardiner gave Kalamazoo a 3-0 lead after the first. In the second period the scoring script flipped, as the Royals outscored Kalamazoo 3-1, cutting the K-Wing lead to 4-3 by the end of the period. Reading kept up the offensive pressure, tying the game midway through the third period.
The game was tied with less than five minutes left on the clock when Colin Jacobs notched his first goal of the season to give Kalamazoo the lead for good. Three and a half minutes later Justin Taylor iced the game with an empty net, short-handed tally. Kalamazoo skated out with a 6-4 victory, and back-to-back wins for the second time this season.
Defenseman Brandon Anselmini has been reassigned to the K-Wings from the Utica Comets, the team announced on Saturday morning. Anselmini netted seven points, all assists in his first 16 games with the K-Wings. He did not appear in a game with the Comets during his recall.
Returning to the Wheel:
Kalamazoo forward Reid Gardiner will make his first appearance in Wheeling, after spending the majority of his rookie season with the Nailers last season. The forward, who signed an AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton prior to last season, appeared in 58 games with the Nailers last season, recording 57 points. Teamed with current Nailer Cam Brown, Gardiner was a part of the top-scoring rookie duo in the ECHL last season with the Nailers combining for 110 points.
Wins and Assists:
Ivan Kulbakov picked up a win and an assist on Friday night, making him the fourth goaltender in the last five seasons to do so. Kulbakov joins Joel Martin, Nic Riopel, and Jordan Binnington. It was the first point of Kulbakov's professional career, and third in the last three years. He had two assists while playing for Youngstown (USHL).
Continuing Up the List:
Justin Taylor's pair of goals on Tuesday night helped the forward climb into third place all-time for goals scored by a K-Wings. Taylor surpassed Kory Karlander (183) with his 184th goal in a Kalamazoo uniform. Taylor trails co-leaders Mike Wanchuk and Kevin Schamehorn who each scored 239 goals during their tenure in Kalamazoo. The Mindemoya, ONT native has appeared in 475 games as a K-Wing, notching 353 points (185g, 168a). Taylor currently sits just outside the top five all-time for K-Wings scoring.
Forwards Tanner Sorenson and Reid Gardiner made big impacts on Friday night in their return to the K-Wings lineup as each player recorded at least a point. Gardiner (1g, 1a) rejoined the K-Wings after a five-game stint with the Utica Comets, while Sorenson rejoined Kalamazoo after a longer absence that saw the forward spend a full season over seas. Sorenson spent two seasons with the K-Wings including the 2016-17 season during which he was named an alternate to the ECHL All-Star team. Sorenson and Gardiner were two of 12 players to notch a point on Friday night.
Short Handed Leaders:
Friday's short-handed empty-net goal for the K-Wings was the seventh short handed tally of the season. Kalamazoo is now tied for first with seven short-handed goals in the ECHL, and has totaled more short-handed tallies (7) this season than all of last year (5). Cincinnati and Jacksonville have each notched seven short-handed goals, but have played three more games than the K-Wings this season. Chris Collins leads all ECHL skaters with six short-handed points. After Collins there is a collection of players with three.