Kalamazoo (14-13-0-1) at Fort Wayne (14-12-0-1)
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Last Time Out:
A late K-Wings comeback came up just short as Kalamazoo fell 5-4 to the Indy Fuel on Saturday night. The K-Wings surrendered the first three goals of the night before finally finding their way onto the scoreboard. Trailing 3-0 Reid Gardiner got the home team on the board, cutting the lead to 3-1with just over two minutes to play in the period. Just 0:14 after Tanner Sorenson brought the K-Wings within one goal with his third goal of the season. In the middle period the Fuel pushed the lead back to three-goals once again as Logan Nelson and Kevin Dufour scored back-to-back goals to take a 5-2 lead by the end of the second. In the final frame of regulation the K-Wings were the only team that was able to get on the board. Kalamazoo scored twice, but it wasn't enough. Chris Collins picked up his tenth goal of the season, and Sorenson netted his second of the night cutting the lead to 5-4. Matt Tomkins held off the rest of a late Kalamazoo push, stopping nine of 11 shots in the final period to give the Fuel the victory. The defeat marked the first time in the season series between the teams that the home team has fallen.
Thursday is the sixth of 13 meetings between the long-standing rivals this season. Kalamazoo holds the edge in the series having won three of the first five meetings, including two in Fort Wayne. So far this season the road team has been the victory in three of the five meetings. Justin Taylor leads all the skaters in the series having tallied four goals against the Komets. Taylor trails only Kalamazoo's Kyle Thomas among all K-Wings in the series. Thomas leads Kalamazoo with five points (2g, 3a). Justin Hodgman leads all skaters in the series by a healthy margin, having recorded ten points (2g, 8a) in the first five games of the series. Jake Hildebrand has seen the bulk of the action for Kalamazoo appearing in four games against the Komets, while Lucas Hafner has appeared in three for the Komets.
Rookie forward Chris Collins leads the K-Wings and the ECHL with eight short-handed points this season. The forward, who netted his fourth short-handed goal of the season on Saturday, is also tied with teammate Justin Taylor for the lead league in that category as well. Kalamazoo has more than doubled their short-handed goal count from last season (5) and leads the league with 11 short-handed tallies this season.
Eight And Growing:
Reid Gardiner's tally on Saturday night extended the forwards point-streak to eight-games. During the current eight-game streak Gardiner has recorded 13 points (5g, 8a) and now ranks third on the team in scoring behind Justin Taylor and Chris Collins. The longest point streak of Gardiner's career is ten games, set twice during his rookie season. Since returning from Utica the forward has gotten at least a point in 12 of 13 games
The K-Wings get right back into action after the holiday break, continuing what has been a hectic December with four games in five days. After traveling to Fort Wayne the K-Wings will host the Wheeling Nailers, and Toledo Walleye to conclude the weekend. After a rare Sunday off for the month of December the K-Wings will take on the Indy Fuel for a New Year’s Eve matinee matchup.
When all is said and done in December the K-Wings will have played a total of 15 games during the month, including 11 at home. Kalamazoo will have surpassed the half-way point of their home schedule for the 2018-19 season. After playing 11 games at home during December Kalamazoo will only play a combined nine games at home during the first two months of 2019.