WHEELING, WV – The Kalamazoo Wings and Wheeling Nailers alternated goals nine times during Saturday night’s game, but the Nailers power play (3/4) was too much to overcome for Kalamazoo, who suffered a 5-4 setback at WesBanco Arena.
As they earned their first power play try of the game, the Nailers tallied the game’s first goal less than three minutes in. With the Wheeling forwards setting up screens in front of Joel Martin, the puck was feathered to Nick Sorkin, whose slap shot whizzed through the bodies and into the top corner of the goal.
Four-and-a-half minutes later, Kalamazoo tied the game after taking over the play. The Nailers tried to clear the puck out of their own end, but the Wings were able to hold the line and Kyle Bushee snapped a long shot to the net. His effort initially hit the post, leaving a rebound for Lane Scheidl to clean up for his 19th goal of the season.
Early in the second period, Sorkin tallied his second of the night in almost identical fashion to his first. Sorkin used a crisp feed from Jordan Kwas to create room at the right-wing side for a quick wrister that slipped past Martin.
Less than two minutes later, Kalamazoo drew even after Josh Pitt showcased great patience in front of the goal and bought time with a crafty deke that took Wheeling goalie Doug Carr off his mark. With the netminder out of position, Pitt deposited his ninth goal of the year, and tied the game at two.
Later on in the period, the Nailers punched in their third goal of the game, courtesy of Garrett Meurs. Meurs nestled in front of the goal and buried his 19th of the season after a pass from Tyler Currier.
The back-and-forth showdown continued into the waning minutes of the second, and Tyler Biggs pulled Kalamazoo even after a show of strength on the puck in the middle of the ice. Holding in front of the goal, Biggs warded off a defender and, while tumbling to the ice, flicked a shot that beat Carr to the stick side. The teams headed into the second intermission tied at three.
Breaking the tie in the first few minutes of the third period, the Nailers established possession in the Wings’ end and drew up a beautiful back door play. Kevin Schulze was on the receiving end of Johnny Daniels’ pass, and hammered it into the top of the goal.
Not going away quietly and erasing the fourth Nailers’ lead of the night, Scheidl generated his second of the game. While on a power play, Martin fired the puck to the Wheeling line and the pass was hauled in by Scheidl, who raced forward and found the back of the goal with a lengthy blast.
On their fourth power play of the game and with less than four minutes to go, the Nailers created havoc in front of the goal and muscled their way into the lead. After Martin made a series of close-range saves, the puck eventually leaked to Danny Fick, who poked it past the scramble and gave Wheeling a 5-4 advantage.
A flurry of chances with Martin on the bench and an extra attacker on the ice fell flat in the closing minutes, and the Nailers earned the 5-4 win.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. Cincinnati Cyclones- Monday, February 20, 10:30 a.m., Wings Event Center.
Broadcast information: Monday’s game will air on AM 1660 The Fan in Kalamazoo or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live.
Notes: Pitt has points in four of his last five games… Martin made 37 saves and Carr made 36… Kalamazoo are 3-4-0-1 against Wheeling this season…Wheeling’s power play went 3/4 and Kalamazoo’s went 1/4…Kalamazoo were outshot, 42-40.
Single-game tickets are on sale! Tickets start as low as $10 and can be purchased at www.kwings.com/tickets/schedule or at the Wings Event Center box office.
Wings Event Center, owned and operated by Greenleaf Hospitality Group, is home to the minor league hockey team Kalamazoo Wings and a full entertainment venue offering concerts, sporting events, family shows and trade shows. Built in 1974, Wings Event Center values partnerships with the community to bring events and attractions that enrich the lives of residents in the Kalamazoo area.