Kalamazoo (30-25-2-2) vs Wheeling (27-25-6-1)
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Last Time Out:
After two scoreless periods the K-Wings and Fuel combined for three power play goals in the third period, as the Fuel topped Kalamazoo 2-1 on Saturday night. Travis Brown netted his 11th and 12th goals for the season for Indy just under two minutes apart at the start of the third period to push the Fuel out to a 2-0 lead. Later in the period the K-Wing power play would answer with a goal of their own, courtesy of Chris Collins. Collins 26th goal of the season would bring the K-Wings within a single goal, but that would be as close as they would get. Indy's Matt Tomkins stopped 22 of 23 shots for the Fuel en route to the 2-1 victory. Matiss Kivlenieks stopped 35 of 37 while suffering the defeat. Kalamazoo and Indy finished the night a combined three for nine on the power play.
The K-Wings play their eighth Sunday game of the season as the Nailers head into town. So far this season the K-Wings have seen success playing on Sunday's posting a record of 5-2-0-0. In addition the K-Wings have won four of five Sunday games at home this year. In comparison the K-Wings have won ten of 18 Friday games, while winning only seven of 20 Saturday games this season. Kalamazoo will play two more Sunday games to round out the season.
Power Play on the Rise:
A power play goal from Chris Collins Saturday moved the K-Wing powr play to 21.4% on the season, the third ranked unit in the ECHL. Kalamazoo has scored on the power play in 12 of the last 13 games, and in each of the last eight. Since the start of February the K-Wing power play has risen nine spots in the ECHL, moving from 12th to third. In addition the power play has jumped from 17.7% to the previously mentioned 21.4%. Prior to his recall Reid Gardiner led the K-Wings with 12 power play goals. Chris Collins and Eric Kattelus rank second on the team with five power play goals each.
Making His Presence Felt:
Chris Collins 26th goal of the season on Saturday helped the rookie continue to make a statement during his first professional season. Collins' 26 goals is already the most by a K-Wing rookie since Dane Fox (2014-15) scored 30 for the K-Wings. The Calgary, AB native becomes only the third rookie to score 25 or more goals in a season since the K-Wings joined the ECHL, joining Fox and Justin Taylor (25). Andrew Fournier holds the ECHL K-Wings record for most goals in a season (38) tallied in the 2010-11 season.
Central Division Check-In:
After Saturday's results the Central Division standings stay the same in positions one through four, with the last few spots tightening up. Fort Wayne topped Toledo to move a total of three points ahead of the K-Wings, while idle Wheeling and Indy each moved closer to Kalamazoo after the Fuel toppled the K-Wings. Five points separates fourth place from sixth in the Central Division heading into Sunday. Five of the six teams in the division play on Sunday, with Fort Wayne being the lone team not playing.
Kalamazoo has held the edge in the series with the Nailers, winning each of the first five meetings, including an overtime game in Kalamazoo on Dec. 14. The teams have three remaining meetings on the schedule including Sunday, with the last two coming at WesBanco Arena. Reid Gardiner terrorized his former club prior to being called up to the Utica Comets, notching eight points in the four games, including seven goals. Chris Collins leads all available K-Wings with five points (1g, 4a). Kalamazoo does not have anyone available to play on Sunday who has scored more than once against the Nailers this season. Michael Phillips and Renars Krastenbergs lead the Nailers against Kalamazoo with five points. Those two join Cedric Lacroix and Winston Day Chief as the only players to score more than ones against the K-Wings this season.