Central Division Semifinal Game #2
Kalamazoo (0-1-0-0) at Cincinnati (1-0-0-0)
Listen: 1660 The Fan
Last Time Out:
Cincinnati used four goals in the third period on Friday night to help gain separation en route to a 7-4 victory over the K-Wings in game one of the Central Division Semifinals at US Bank Arena. Kalamazoo opened the scoring just 2:16 into the first period as Kyle Thomas scored from the right side to give the K-Wings the 1-0 lead. Following Thomas' tally the Cyclones netted each of the next two goals to take their first lead of the night. Dominic Zombo tied the game up at 2-2 in front of the net just a few seconds later, but the Cyclones scored each of the next three goals to take a 5-2 lead. Trailing by three Chris Collins got the K-Wings back within two with a power play goal but two goals from the Cyclones in the final 2:30 of the second period gave the home team a 7-3 lead after 40 minutes of play. In the third period the K-Wings recorded the only goal and outshot the Cyclones 12-8, but were not able to draw even. Cincinnati claimed the victory in game one by a score of 7-4. Ivan Kulbakov suffered the defeat, allowing five goals on 19 shots. Jake Hildebrand, who also faced 19 shots in relief, allowed two goals. Michael Houser stopped 24 of 28 shots he faced for the Cyclones.
Each team finished game one having converted on two of six power play opportunities (33.3%). Kalamazoo ended the regular season with only two power play goals in the last eight games including a stretch of six straight games without a power play goal at all. The two-goal night on the man-advantage for the K-Wings also gives Kalamazoo a power play goals in three straight games dating back to the regular season. Kalamazoo and Cincinnati finished the regular season ranked fourth and eighth on the power play respectively.
Kyle Thomas marked his return to the Kalamazoo lineup on Friday night with his third multi-goal game of the season, and second career multi-goal playoff game. Thomas, who was recalled to Utica late in February, finished the regular season fifth on the team scoring despite only appearing in 42 games for Kalamazoo. Overall this season, Thomas has notched nine multi-point games for the K-Wings. The forward ranks third on the team in playoff experience as Friday night marked his 27th career playoff game.
Kalamazoo and Cincinnati boast the top two scoring rookies in the ECHL and both found their way onto the scoresheet in Friday's game. Chris Collins, named ECHL Rookie of the Year, scored Kalamazoo's fourth goal of the night while Cincinnati's Myles Powell scored and added an assist for the Cyclones. Collins finished the regular season with 65 points, one back from Powell who led all rookies in scoring. Both players were named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team earlier in the week.
Breaking The Drought:
Friday's game, despite suffering the loss, marked the first time since March 20 that the K-Wings had scored four or more goals. In their last four games the K-Wings had been held to only four goals, and had been shutout once. The teams 3-0 victory over the Toledo Walleye on March 29 and the 2-1 victory over Wichita on April 3 marked the only times in the season-ending seven game road trip that Kalamazoo scored more than a single goal in a game. Kalamazoo was held to a single goal on four occasions, while being shut out by the Nailers in the 1-0 defeat on March 31. The K-Wings headed into the post season after averaging 3.2 goals per game in the regular season, the 12th best mark in the ECHL. Cincinnati is surrendering a league low 2.41 goals per game through the entirety of the 72 game regular season.