Kalamazoo (25-20-1-2) vs Adirondack (28-17-3-2)
Listen: 1660 the Fan
Last Time Out:
The K-Wings notched a trio of power play goals and a short-handed tally, but it was an even strength goal by Kyle Blaney midway through overtime that made a difference as the K-Wings topped Fort Wayne 6-5 in a Pink Ice, Valentine's Day match up. Kalamazoo scored first as Luke Sandler got on the board just 0:25 into the game to give Kalamazoo the opening lead. Fort Wayne would answer back before the period ended, and the teams would trade goals until the middle of regulation. Tied 2-2, the K-Wings would push out to a 4-2 lead early in what would be a back and forth period. After seeing their lead cut to a single goal Chris Collins netted his 20th goal of the season to give the K-Wings a 5-3 lead. The Komets though came storming back. Fort Wayne netted a pair of goals in the final three minutes of regulation with the goalie pulled to tie the game at 5-5. In the overtime period Kyle Blaney netted his second goal of the night at the 2:22 mark, sending the K-Wings home with a 6-5 victory, and putting them into a tied for third place in the Central Division with the Komets.
Blaney's Game Winners:
Thursday was the third game-winning goal of the season for Kyle Blaney, tying him for second on the team. It was also the second overtime goal for Blaney this season, which leads Kalamazoo. The Burlington, ON native is tied with Reid Gardiner and Tanner Sorenson for the second most game-winning goals, trailing Justin Taylor (5). Taylor's five game-winning goals is the third highest total in the ECHL.
Goals from Chris Collins and Michael Neal extended scoring streaks of eight and four games respectively for the K-Wing forwards on Saturday night. In addition Collins ran his point streak to 11 games, in his first game back from the AHL's Manitoba Moose. Additionally, assists from Kyle Thomas (12 games), Brendan Bradley (7 games), Tanner Sorenson (8 games) all extended point streaks. Jake Hildebrand is also riding a career-high eight-game win-streak, and has won each of his last nine decisions. Hildebrand is one victory away from tying his career high for wins in a season (18).
Saturday is the first and only meeting between the Thunder and K-Wings this season. Last year the Thunder topped Kalamazoo in both contests, taking place at Wings Event Center outscoring Kalamazoo 9-3 through the two games. Kyle Bushee, Anton Cederholm, and Josh Pitt netted the Kalamazoo goals against the Thunder. No K-Wing had more than a single point. Adirondack's James Henry led the Thunder with three points (1g, 2a), while Ty Loney and Austin Orszulak each scored twice. The K-Wings lone victory over the Thunder in Kalamazoo came on March 5, 2017 by a score of 6-3.
Scouting the Thunder:
Adirondack heads to Wings Event Center in the middle of a three-game Central Division swing with one game each against Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo, and Cincinnati. After playing Cincinnati on Sunday the Thunder conclude their season playing only North Division foes. Heading into the weekend the Thunder hold the second spot in their division, attempting to chase down Newfoundland. The North, much like the Central, is close from top to bottom as only five points sit between third and seventh, and only ten from second to seventh. Jame Henry leads the Thunder with 44 points (12g, 32a), while rookies Mike Szmatula (20g) and John Edwardh (17g) lead the thunder in scoring. Six different netminders have seen time for the Thunder this season led by Alex Sakellaropoulos, who also saw time with the Utica Comets backing up Ivan Kulbakov.
Saturday night is Stranger Wings night as Kalamazoo will recognize the hit Netflix series Stranger Things by wearing special Stranger Wings jerseys, in addition to handing out Stranger Wings hats to the first 1,000 fans in attendance. The jerseys will be auctioned off after the game, with proceeds going to the Community Healing Center.