Kalamazoo (32-27-2-2) at Fort Wayne (31-21-3-6)
Listen: 1660 the Fan
Last Time Out:
After a three-goal first period a goaltenders dual took center stage as Kaden Fulcher and Matiss Kivlenieks and Kaden Fulcher combined to make 61 saves on 64 shots while Kalamazoo topped Toledo 2-1. Chris Collins deflected a pass from Michael Neal into the top corner of the net just 8:03 into the period, putting the K-Wings up 1-0 in the opening frame. Four and a half minutes later the K-Wing lead doubled as Zach Saar got the power play back on the board. Saar chipped a puck over the pad of Fulcher to double the K-Wing lead to 2-0. Toledo answered back four minutes after Saar's goal, but it was the only puck they would sneak past Matiss Kivlenieks as Kalamazoo claimed its first regulation victory over the Walleye, 2-1. Matiss Kivlenieks made over 30 saves for the fourth straight game, and won for the third time in his last four appearances.
Central Division Race:
Heading into Wednesday's games the K-Wings magic number to clinch a playoff spot sits at 15 points. Both Indy and Wheeling can reach a maximum of 82 points as they try and leap the K-Wings into the fourth and final spot in the playoff race.Wheeling and Indy, tied for third, are four points back from Kalamazoo with nine games left in the regular season. Kalamazoo trails Fort Wayne by three points for third place in the division, and has two games remaining against the Komets.Kalamazoo also plays Wheeling twice, Indy once, and Toledo once. The last three games of the season all come outside of the division for Kalamazoo.
Saar's Game Winners:
Zach Saar's game-winning goal on Sunday afternoon marked the fourth of the forward's season. Saar is in sole possesion of second place on the time, following only Justin Taylor (5). Kalamazoo has four players right behind Saar who have tallied a trio of game-winning goals this season. The Penn State grad has already more than tripled his point production (6pts) from last season, while more than doubling the amount of goals he scored.
Power Play Successes:
The K-Wing power play got back on the board on Sunday after seeing a ten-game scoring streak snapped on Saturday night in Cincinnati. Finishing the night one-for-four pushed the K-Wings to 21.5% on the man-advantage, while remaining in third place in the ECHL. On the road Kalamazoo has been slightly more successful than at home, scoring on 23.0% of chances, compared to 20.3% of chances at home. Against the Komets this season the K-Wings have seen above average success, converting on 31.5% of chances.
Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne meet for the 11th of 13 times this season on Wednesday. The K-Wings hold the slight edge having won six of the 11 meetings, while also suffering an overtime loss. Two of the last three meetings between the teams have gone past regulation with both teams notching a victory in the overtime period. Chris Collins has led the way for the K-Wings in the season series with 15 points (9g, 6a). Collins nine goals is also the highest mark of the series as well. Fort Wayne's Justin Hodgman leads all Komets skaters in the series with 14 points (2g, 12a), and is tied with Kalamazoo's Tanner Sorenson (4g, 10a) for the second most points in the season series. Ivan Kulbakov (2gp) and Jake Hildebrand (9gp) have each played against the Komets this season, while Matiss Kivlenieks has yet to face the black and orange. Komets goalie Zach Fucale has appeared in five meetings against the K-Wings, posting a record of 2-2-1-0, paired with a 4.21 goals against average, and a .851 save percentage.
Then There Was One:
Saturday marks the 36th and final home game of the regular season for the K-Wings as they host the Wheeling Nailers. After playing at home on Saturday Kalamazoo wraps up the season with their longest road trip of the year playing seven games in 11 days to end the regular season.