Kalamazoo, MI – The IHL doesn’t pay its players extra for overtime. But for the Kalamazoo Wings this season, a sure two points has been payment enough.
Lucas Drake’s tying tally with 53 seconds left in the third pushed the K-Wings and the Fort Wayne Komets beyond regulation. Anthony Battaglia’s shootout winner gave the home club a 5-4 victory at Wings Stadium Friday night. The K-Wings’ last three victories have come in overtime or in the shootout are they are now 7-0 in games that go more than 60 minutes.
Fort Wayne led 2-0 in the second period and then trailed 3-2 in the third before rallying for a one-goal edge until the final minute. The wild contest featured two power play goals, a pair of shorthanded markers and four lead changes.
The traditional rivals combined to play a furious first period that featured everything hockey has to offer – except goals. Nonetheless, the K-Wings and Komets produced countless end-to-end rushes, violent checks and more than a few quality saves.
Fort Wayne generated the better scoring chances in the opening frame, but the sure-handed goaltending of Kalamazoo’s Joel Martin and three lucky bounces off goalposts kept the game scoreless in the early going.
The Komets continued to charge the K-Wings net in the second, but when defenseman Jay Holladay went to the penalty box for tripping midway through the period, it seemed the home team would survive the onslaught.
On the resulting power play, a good save by goalie Nick Boucher on Kalamazoo’s Jason Robinson led to a two-on-one shorthanded break for David Hukalo and Mathieu Curadeau. Curadeau (16th) took a lead feed from Hukalo, got behind the defense and lifted a backhand into the top shelf for a spectacular icebreaking goal at 11:16.
The Komets continued to force the issue and were rewarded at 16:25 courtesy of an unassisted slapshot goal off the stick of Mark Versteeg-Lytwyn (6th).
Trailing by a pair, it only took the K-Wings a little over a minute to draw even. The hasty comeback was kicked off when Detulleo (13th) took a puck off the left boards into the offensive zone and bore down on the Komets’ cage. With Battaglia on right wing waiting for the setup, Detulleo instead walked right to Boucher’s doorstep and dumped it in at 18:24.
Then, at 19:43 and with Kalamazoo down a man because of a Blair Stayzer minor penalty, Battaglia drove into the Fort Wayne end with Detulleo (14th) as a sidecar to the right, waiting until the last moment to slide a feed to the captain for an open-net one-timer and a 2-2 score.
Mark Nebus (21st) slammed home a power-play goal from in front at 13:12 and the K-Wings were on their way to an apparent tidy come-from-behind victory. Fort Wayne made things messy on goals 2:19 apart by Guy Dupuis (9th) and Konstantin Shafranov (12th) for a 4-3 lead.
But with Martin off the ice for the extra attacked, Drake (15th) poked home a loose puck from the side of the goal to force OT. Five scoreless minutes later, Battaglia scored to lead off the shootout and it held up as Martin turned aside all three shots in the tiebreaker.
Detulleo and Battaglia each enjoyed three-point evenings for Kalamazoo, while Curadeau and Hukalo matched those efforts on the Fort Wayne side of the ledger.
For Game Stats: http://pointstreak.com/prostats/gamesheet_full.html?gameid=735012
Kalamazoo heads on the road tomorrow night (01/24) for a 7:30 p.m. encounter against the first-place Port Huron Icehawks.
The K-Wings will return to Wings Stadium this Sunday, January 25th with a 4 p.m. face-off versus the Flint Generals. Single-game tickets for any of the K-Wings 38 regular season home games are currently on sale at the Wings Stadium Ticket Office. Ticket Office hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call Wings Stadium Ticket Office during regular business hours at (269) 345-5101.
For more information about tonight’s game, please contact Director of Public Relations/Broadcaster Mike Modugno at (269) 349-9772 extension 220.