Kalamazoo (13-12-0-1) at Fort Wayne (13-11-0-1)
Listen: 1660 The Fan
Last Time Out:
The K-Wings took a 2-1 lead early in the second period, but it was a four-goal outburst from the Walleye that ended up being the difference as Toledo snapped the K-Wings four-game win streak on Wednesday night. After the Kalamazoo lead the Walleye netted each of the next three goals to take the 4-2 lead into the second intermission. Trailing by a pair the K-Wings got an early third period tally from Chris Collins, but it wasn't enough as the Walleye added a pair of empty net goals in the last two minutes of play to round out the scoring. Collins finished the night with a pair of goals, his first multi-goal game of his career. Ivan Kulbakov started the night for Kalamazoo, stopping 25 of 29 shots in the first two periods. Meanwhile, Jake Hildebrand stopped all ten shots he faced in relief in the third period.
Friday is the fifth of 13 meetings between the K-Wings and Komets this season. The teams have split the first four meetings of the season, each winning once at home, and once on the road. After the K-Wings won the first two meetings of the season Fort Wayne has topped Kalamazoo is each of the last two meetings. Friday will also be the third of eight games to take place at Memorial Coliseum. Kyle Thomas leads Kalamazoo against his former squad this season with five points (2g, 3a) while Chris Collins is right behind him with four points (1g, 3a). Justin Taylor leads Kalamazoo with three goals through the four-game set so far. Jake Hildebrand has started three of the four games against the Komets, claiming both victories. Ivan Kulbakov fell to the Komets in his only appearance, stopping 20 of 24 shots in a 4-2 loss. Fort Wayne’s Justin Hodgman leads all skaters in the series with ten points (2g, 8a).
Points on the K-Wings first period goal on Wednesday extended Chris Collins and Reid Gardiner's point streaks to six-games. The forwards rank second and third respectively on the team in scoring. Collins' 25 points ranks him seventh among all ECHL rookies this season. The Calgary, AB native also leads the league with short-handed points (7). Gardiner (9g, 9a) is third on the team with 18 points. The forward has recorded at least a point in nine of ten games since being reassigned from Utica on Nov. 29. Collins and Gardiner are also tied for second in goals among all K-Wings:
Rare Road Game:
Friday night will be the first road game for the K-Wings in nine days, and only the second one of the month. Kalamazoo finds themselves with a 15 game schedule in the month of December, however only four of those games require the K-Wings to leave the confines of Wings Event Center. Since starting the month in Wheeling, WV the only trip that the K-Wings have had to make prior to heading to Fort Wayne was to Brampton on Dec. 12. After Dec. concludes the K-Wings will have played 20 of the 36 home games for the season.
So fat December has been a strong month for the K-Wings as Kalamazoo has posted a record of 7-2-0-0. Prior to the start of December Kalamazoo was four games under .500 with a record of 6-10-0-1. Since the month started Kalamazoo has improved to a game over .500, and is currently tied for fourth place in the Central Division with the Fort Wayne Komets.
The K-Wings return to Wings Event Center on Saturday night as they host the Indy Fuel for Festivus Night. It will also be the first underwear toss. Fans are invited to toss packages of new underwear onto the ice following the K-Wings first goal. All the underwear collected at the game will be donated to local shelters following the game.