Kalamazoo (31-25-2-2) at Toledo (33-18-5-3)
Listen: 1660 the Fan
Last Time Out:
Kyle Blaney scored in the fifth round of the shootout on Sunday afternoon as the K-Wings snapped a two-game skid, topping the Wheeling Nailers 4-3. The victory was the K-Wings sixth straight over Wheeling this season. Kalamazoo opened up the scoring less than two minutes into regulation when Zach Saar picked up his 11th goal of the season. The lead was short lived, however, as the Nailers scored twice in the rest of the period to take a 2-1 lead. Tanner Sorenson tied the game up with his first of two goals on the night early in the middle frame. The 2-2 deadlock stayed in place until the third period when the Nailers retook the lead courtesy of a power play goal from Michael Phillips. It only took Tanner Sorenson four minutes to answer as he tied the game once again. As the teams remained tied through the rest of regulation and overtime, Kalamazoo and Wheeling headed into the shootout. Eric Kattelus and Zac Lynch traded goals in the first three rounds, setting the stage for Kyle Blaney to cap off the shootout in the fifth round. Jake Hildebrand, claiming his 20th victory of the season, stopped 46 of 49 shots.
Last weekend's three-game set marked the final time this season that Kalamazoo will play back-to-back home games. Ten of the last 12 games on the schedule for Kalamazoo will be played away from Wings Event Center. The K-Wings will play their final home game of the season on March 23, hosting the Wheeling Nailers. This season Kalamazoo is 13-12-1-0 on the road, while posting a record of 18-13-1-2 at home. Dating back to February 1 the K-Wings are 5-2-1-0 away from home.
Keep It Rolling:
Kalamazoo finished Sunday afternoon one for two on the power play running their power play scoring streak to nine-games, and the power play to 21.6%. During that nine-game stretch the K-Wings have converted on 12 of 34 chances (35.29%). The K-Wings are one of only two teams, joining Utah, in the ECHL that have a power play converting on over 20% of chances both on the road (23.5%) and at home (20.1%). Prior to being recalled to Utica, Reid Gardiner was tied for third overall in the ECHL in power play goals (12).
Then There Were Three:
Kalamazoo added forward Brennan Sanford on Thursday, giving the team three former Michigan State Spartans, as well as three former Jr. K-Wings. Sanford, who just concluded his NCAA career with Michigan State this season, played one year with Jake Hildebrand at Michigan State, while missing Tanner Sorenson by a season. Sanford played with the Jr. K-Wings during the 2012-13 season, and teamed with current K-Wing Trevor Boyd on that team. Chad McDonald rounds out the trio of players to wear the K-Wing and Jr. K-Wing jersey.
Friday is the tenth of 12 meetings between the K-Wings and Walleye this season. While the K-Wings have taken a point in four of the first nine, including winning three of those, Kalamazoo has yet to beat Toledo in regulation this season. In the last five seasons the K-Wings have only beat the Walleye four times in regulation while at Huntington Center. Chris Collins leads the K-Wings with eight points (5g, 3a) in seven games against the Walleye this season. Kyle Blaney and Eric Kattelus are right behind him with seven points. Shane Berschbach leads the Walleye with 11 points (4g, 7a) against Kalamazoo, while AJ Jenks is right behind him with nine points. All three goaltenders on the K-Wing roster have faced the Walleye at least once this season. Jake Hildebrand has appeared in seven of the nine games, while Matiss Kivlenieks has seen the Walleye twice, and Ivan Kulbakov once.
Friday kicks off the third straight three-in-three for the K-Wings in the month of March. After this weekend's games Kalamazoo will only play one more three-in-three, the seventh and final one of the season. The K-Wings are 4-2-1-0 in the first games of three and threes so far this season.