KALAMAZOO, MI — It was a vintage edition of the Kalamazoo Wings and Fort Wayne Komets rivalry, but it was the visiting Komets that escaped with a 5-3 win on Sunday at Wings Event Center.
In classic fashion between the Wings and Komets, it was a physical affair in the opening period, highlighted by up-tempo play and numerous chances. While on their second man advantage try of the game, Fort Wayne took the game’s first lead after Kyle Thomas smashed a trickling puck into the goal for his 23rd of the season.
Five minutes later, the Komets added to their lead while carrying in on a two-on-one. Thomas lifted the puck along to Jamie Schaafsma, who was on the back door to chop the puck past Kalamazoo netminder Joel Martin.
After earning their third power play of the game, the Wings finally broke through the Komets defense and lit the lamp. Kyle Blaney flung a backhand saucer pass to Kyle Bushee, who snapped a one-timer that carved through a web of bodies in front of the goal and beat a screened Garrett Bartus.
Early in the second period and on yet another man advantage, Kalamazoo pressured but were answered by Bartus. After a stunning save by the Komets’ goalie, the long rebound was stretched ahead to Travis Ewanyk who, having just left the box, carried in on a breakaway. Ewanyk’s shot on the uncontested chance flew past Martin and gave the Komets a 3-1 lead.
Less than a minute after Ewanyk’s tally, Kalamazoo drew back to within a goal. Josh Pitt floated a flawless pass to Justin Taylor, who held the puck patiently and saw a window above the glove of Bartus. Taylor roofed a backhander for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season.
On their seventh power play try of the game, Kalamazoo tied the game at three after Lane Schiedl crashed through the traffic and to the front of the goal. Kyle Bushee’s shot was slowed down by the Komets’ defense, but Scheidl followed the play and one-touched a backhander into the top corner of the net for his 18th of the year.
The third period was a bruising frame, as Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne traded punishing checks and scoring opportunities. Late in the period, the Komets were on the receiving end of a fortuitous bounce and earned what was the eventual game winner. Thomas slid the puck from an impossible angle, and it caromed off the skate of Martin into the goal, pushing the Komets ahead, 4-3.
With time ticking away and Martin on the bench for an extra attacker, Thomas capped off his hat trick with an empty net goal, closing the door on a potential comeback for Kalamazoo.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. Ft. Wayne Komets- Tuesday, February 14, 7:00 p.m., Wings Event Center.
Broadcast information: Tuesday’s game will air on AM 1660 The Fan in Kalamazoo or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live.
Notes: Scheidl’s goal (18th) sets a new career high…Taylor is eight points shy of tying Sam Ftorek’s ECHL franchise record for career points (271)…Taylor has eight points in seven games against Fort Wayne this season.Thomas has 13 points in seven games against Kalamazoo this season… Kalamazoo are five for their last 16 on the power play against Fort Wayne.
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.