Kalamazoo (14-14-0-1) vs Wheeling (15-12-0-1)
Listen: 1660 The Fan
Last Time Out:
After the goaltenders combined for 43 saves through the first two periods of play the K-Wings and Komets combined to score three goals in the third on Thursday night as the K-Wings fell just short, falling 2-1 to the Komets. Fort Wayne opened the scoring just under five minutes into the third period. After Jake Kamrass' 13th goal of the season put the Komets up 1-0, Jamie Schaafsma doubled the lead. The Komet captain banked a puck of Jake Hildebrand and into the net giving Fort Wayne the 2-0 lead. Late in the period the K-Wings got a push from Chris Collins and cut into the lead. Tanner Sorenson found Collins in front of the net before the rookie notched his 11th goal of the season, getting the K-Wings on the board. Lukas Hafner stuffed the K-Wing attack the rest of the way as the Komets topped Kalamazoo 2-1. The loss marked the first time since Nov. 23 and 24 that the K-Wings had lost consecutive games.
Kalamazoo and Wheeling face off for the fourth of eight meetings this season. The K-Wings have held the edge through the first three meetings winning each match-up, including two at Wings Event Center. Justin Taylor leads all players through the first three games, posting three goals and three assists for six points. Taylor along with Tyler Biggs and Reid Gardiner have all scored more than once in the season series. Biggs and Gardiner have each scored twice. Cam Brown leads the Nailers with four points, all assists. Winston Day Chief and Renars Krastenbergs have also scored twice in the series for the Nailers. The teams have combined to use five different goaltenders in the series so far. Jake Hildebrand, who has started two games against the Nailers, is 2-0-0 with a 1.48 goals against average and a .955 save percentage against Wheeling this season.
Scouting the Nailers:
The Nailers head into the weekend as one of the hottest teams in the ECHL, having won eight of their last ten games, and taken a point in nine of ten. The current run has pushed the Nailers into third place in the Central Division.
Wheeling will be without leading scorer and reigning ECHL Player of the Week Nick Saracino on Friday night as the forward has been recalled to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Prior to his recall Saracino had totaled 37 points (17g, 20a). Right behind him is former linemate Cam Brown who has notched 33 points (8g, 25a). Defenseman Kevin Spinozzi, who is second on the team in goals, leads all ECHL defensemen in goals (11) and points (28).
Leading the Way:
Chris Collins third period goal on Thursday night pushed the forward into a tied for fifth place among all ECHL rookies in scoring. The Calgary, AB native has notched 28 points (11g, 17a) in his first professional season and also leads the K-Wings. His 11 goals are second on the team trailing only Justin Taylor.
Both Kalamazoo and Wheeling skaters have impressive point streaks on the line on in Friday's game. Reid Gardiner enters the night riding a nine-game point streak, while Wheeling's Cam Brown puts his 11-game streak on the line. Brown's is the longest active streak in the ECHL, while Gardiner's is tied for the third longest with a handful of other skaters. Gardiner has tallied 13 points (5g, 7a) during the current nine-game streak. His career long is ten games, set twice last season.
Upcoming-Game of Thrones:
Saturday night is Game of Thrones night as the K-Wings host the Toledo Walleye while paying homage to the popular TV series. Both Kalamazoo and Toledo will be wearing specialty jerseys during the game. Fans are invited to stick around after the game to bid on their favorite player’s jersey. Jerseys will be available for pickup in the K-Wings offices the week of January 7.