Kalamazoo, MI- Ryan Nie made 37 saves, was the first star of the game and the catalyst behind the Kalamazoo Wings 4-1 victory over the Wheeling Nailers at Wings Stadium on Saturday night. The victory for Kalamazoo ties the Eastern Conference Finals at one game apiece, heading to Wheeling for games three, four and five of the best-of-seven series.
The first period belonged to Kalamazoo, as they came out firing on all cylinders. Justin Taylor got the first period scoring-fest underway at the 2:44 mark, with his five-hole wrister that beat Wheeling goaltender, Peter Delmas. Taylor’s goal was his ECHL leading eighth of the post-season. Kory Karlander added an assist on the goal, which brings him within one point of 100 in his playoff career.
Using a power-play opportunity six minutes later, AJ Thelen found the score sheet for the second time of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Thelen’s laser of a slap shot beat Delmas over his shoulder and found the back of the net to give the K-Wings a 2-0 advantage. Trent Daavettila was credited with a helper on the goal, extending his active point streak to nine games.
The K-Wings capitalized on their third man-advantage opportunity of the first frame. Dean Strong got into the goal-scoring mix, when he placed a wrist shot in the top-corner of the goal while at the top of the left circle. Strong’s goal was his 6th of the playoffs, good enough for second on the team.
Less than two minutes later, Kalamazoo extended their lead to 4-0 over the Nailers when Sam Ftorek’s (3rd) seemingly innocent slap shot found a way to trickle past Delmas and over the goal-line. It was the fourth goal of the game for the K-Wings on only 13 shots.
The second period was scoreless for both teams, as Kalamazoo was held to only five shots in the middle stanza, while surrendering 18 to Wheeling.
Wheeling got on the scoreboard for the first and only time of the evening at the 2:51 mark of the third period. Nie turned the puck over from behind his own net and Tim Crowder capitalized on a wide open shot to score his second of the post-season.
For Game Stats: http://echl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=8778.
Kalamazoo and Wheeling will continue with the Eastern Conference Finals this Thursday, May 5th with a 7:05 p.m. encounter with game three at the WesBanco Arena.
If necessary, the K-Wings will return home on Tuesday, May 10th for a 7 p.m. face-off in game six of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals versus the Nailers.
Catch all the K-Wings games, home and away, on the K-Wings Radio Network (95.9 FM WLKM & on kwings.com). Join the “Voice of the K-Wings” Mike Modugno for all 72 regular season games plus the playoffs. Pre-game coverage begins with the Kalsee Credit Union Pre-Game Show 15 minutes prior to face-off. For the most complete coverage of the K-Wings from the opening face-off to the final buzzer and the Discover Kalamazoo Post-Game Show, keep your radio tuned this season to the K-Wings Radio Network.
Single game tickets for the third round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs and 2011-12 Season Tickets are on are on sale at the Wings Stadium Ticket Office, Ticketmaster Outlets, including www.ticketmaster.com, Ticket Office hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, please call Wings Stadium Ticket Office during regular business hours at (269) 345-5101.
Tickets for all K-Wings third round playoff home games are on sale now and range in price from $12.90-$17.90 for adults and only $9.90 for kids ages 12 and under.
Fans can save money by purchasing K-Wings single game tickets advance because on the day of a game, K-Wings tickets are $1 more.
For more information about tonight’s game, please contact Mike Modugno, director of public relations and broadcaster at (269) 349-9772, extension 220.