Kalamazoo (15-15-0-1) vs Indy (16-14-0-0)
Listen: 1660 The Fan
Last Time Out:
A late push from the K-Wings came up just short as the team fell to the Toledo Walleye 5-4 on Saturday night. Kalamazoo got a pair of even strength goals in the opening period from Wade Murphy and Chris Collins, but the Walleye picked up a pair of five-on-five goals in addition to a late period power play tally to lead 3-2 after the first. Leading by one the Walleye added another in the second to extend their lead to 4-2 before the K-Wings got back on the board. Kalamazoo outscored the Walleye 2-1 in the final 30 minutes, but they weren't able to dig themselves out of a two goal hole, falling 5-4. Reid Gardiner scored in the third period for the K-Wings, extending his point streak to 11-games. Gardiner's tally came on the power play, giving the K-Wings power play goals in at least back-to-back games for the fourth time this season. Jake Hildebrand stopped 26 of 31 shots in the loss.
The Fuel hold the edge in the season series between the teams, having won three of the first four contests. Monday afternoon is the third of six meetings in Kalamazoo between the teams, and fifth of 12 overall games between the Central Division foes. K-Wings forward Chris Collins is tied with Indy's Kevin Dufour, Josh Shalla and Olivier Labelle for the series lead in both goals (3) and points (6). Tanner Sorenson, Reid Gardiner, Zach Saar, and Justin Taylor have all scored twice against Indy this season for Kalamazoo. The Fuel also have a trio of players who have notched five points against the K-Wings this season. Jake Hildebrand is 0-3-0-0 against his former squad this year, while Matt Tomkins is perfect in two starts against the K-Wings.
Career High Streak:
A third period goal on Saturday night kept Reid Gardiner's point streak alive, and pushed it to a career long 11-games. Gardiner's streak is the second longest active streak in the ECHL, trailing only Wheeling's Cam Brown. During the 11-game streak the Humboldt, SK native has notched 19 points (9g, 10a) and has moved himself into second on the team with 28 points. Gardiner netted a 15-game point streak during the final season of his junior career with the Kelowna Rockets, but didn't surpass ten games during his first professional season.
Kalamazoo made a pair of roster moves on Sunday acquiring goaltender Keegan Asmundson from the Wheeling Nailers for future considerations, and claiming defenseman Brandon Lubin off waivers from Fort Wayne. Asmundson, who began the season with Kalamazoo, rejoins the K-Wings after playing seven games with the Pensacola Ice Flyers (SPHL). In his time with the Ice Flyers the goaltender posted a .911 save percentage, along with a 2.77 goals against average. Lubin, who began the season with the Evansville Thunderbolts (SPHL), notched nine points (3g, 6a) in 20 games in Evansville prior to joining the Komets on loan. In three games with Fort Wayne he registered a plus one rating. Lubin will wear #2 for the K-Wings, while Asmundson will wear #30.
The Central Division race is continuing to be the closest division race in the ECHL as only two points separate third place from sixth. The K-Wings, currently in sixth, have 31 points through the first 31 games of the season, while Indy and Wheeling sit one point ahead of Kalamazoo in a tie for fourth. Cincinnati (46 pts), and Toledo (45 points) are the only teams with a little breathing room, sitting in first and second.
After a slew of home games in December the K-Wings will only play at home five times in January. Kalamazoo begins the month with trips to Toledo and Cincinnati, before returning home to face the Brampton Beast on Friday, January 11. Kalamazoo has a lone home stand in the middle of the month, as they host three straight games January 18, 19, and 25.