Kalamazoo (29-22-1-2) vs Fort Wayne (25-18-3-6)
Listen: 1660 the Fan
Last Time Out:
Chris Collins got a chance to play the hero in overtime as the K-Wings topped the Walleye 3-2 in the extra period on Wednesday night in Kalamazoo. A first period tally from Chad McDonald put the home side up 1-0 after the first period of play, but the Walleye would get a goal from Brenden Kotyk in the second, the only goal of the period to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the third period. In the final frame of regulation the teams traded goals as Kalamazoo got a highlight reel tally from Luke Sandler, before the Walleye answered with one from Trevor Hamilton, just 1:16 later to tie the game. Tied 2-2 after 60 minutes of play the teams headed into overtime for the fourth time this season. In the extra period Chris Collins and the K-Wings power play capitalized with just over a minute remaining to end it. Collins 22nd of the season gave Kalamazoo the 3-2 victory, their third win the last four games over the Walleye. Matiss Kivlenieks stopped 39 of 41 shots in the victory for Kalamazoo. The power play finished the night two-for-four.
Netminder Ivan Kulbakov returned to the K-Wings on Friday morning after being reassigned by the Utica Comets. Kulbakov, 22, returns to Kalamazoo after playing 12 games for Utica since being recalled in late December. Overall the netminder has appeared in 24 games for the Comets this season, posting a record of 10-8-6, paired with a 3.56 goals against average and a .892 save percentage. He also appeared in eight games with the K-Wings prior to his recall, posting a record of 6-2-0-0, along side a 3.41 goals against average, and a .915 save percentage.
Head to Head:
Friday night is the tenth of 13 meetings between the two long-time foes this season. Kalamazoo currently holds the edge, having won six of the first nine meetings this year. Additionally each of the last three meetings have gone in Kalamazoo’s favor, with the K-Wings netting at least five goals in each game. Over the last two seasons the K-Wings have held a major edge, posting a record of 11-4-0-0 against the Komets. Chris Collins and Tanner Sorenson each lead the K-Wings in points against the Komets this season, having racked up 12 points. Collins (6g, 6a) leads the K-Wings as well in goals and joins nine other K-Wings having scored at least twice against the Komets. Sorenson (3g, 9a) leads the K-Wings in assists, and is tied with Justin Hodgman for the most assists in the season series. Hodgman leads the Komets with 11 points (2g, 9a) despite having missed three of the first nine games. After Friday night the teams will play once more at Wings Event Center, before wrapping up the season series with a pair of games in Fort Wayne.
300th as a K-Wing:
Friday night marks the 300th game as a K-Wing for captain Ben Wilson. The defenseman will become only the fifth person in the ECHL era to appear in 300 games as a K-Wing joining Justin Taylor (493 games), Sam Ftorek (407 games), Eric Kattelus (355 games), and Joel Martin (308 games). During his tenure in Kalamazoo, Wilson has notched 11 goals and 45 assists, paired with 450 penalty minutes.
Blaney Hits 100:
A pair of points on Wednesday night against the Walleye pushed forward Kyle Blaney over the 100 point mark for his career. Blaney, in his third pro season, is currently fifth on the team in points with 35 (10g, 25a) in 45 games this season.
Kevin Evans Returns:
As a part of the 45th Anniversary season the K-Wings will welcome back former fan favorite Kevin Evans back to town on Friday night. Evans, who played for Kalamazoo from 1985-93, skated in 333 games for the K-Wings during the IHL era. Evans still leads all K-Wings with 2,176 penalty minutes and added 286 points during his tenure (100g, 186a). Additionally the first 1,000 fans through the doors will receive a Kevin Evans bobble fist.