Wings Drop Dramatic Game One in Toledo
TOLEDO, OH— Even though they showed unbelievable resiliency all night long, the Kalamazoo Wings couldn’t cap off a dramatic comeback back during a 4-3 loss in game one of their best-of-seven Central Division Semi-Final series Friday night at the Huntington Center.
Knowing that the first few minutes were critical, the Wings stormed out of the opening faceoff with an energetic flow to their game. Controlling the puck in the Toledo zone, Kalamazoo established a series of chances and generated the first goal of the night. Justin Taylor drove the puck to the net, and a scrum in front of the goal freed the puck to Blake Kessel, who chipped it past the leg of Toledo’s Jake Paterson and into the goal.
The Wings’ lead lasted about ten minutes before the Walleye evened things up at one. On an odd-man rush, Dane Walters floated the puck for Shane Berschbach, and although his effort was stopped by Kalamazoo’s Nick Riopel, it was followed up by Kyle Bonis for a put-back tally.
Toledo’s quick-strike attack continued less than three minutes later, as Evan Rankin snuck in behind the defense and roofed a backhander that sailed over the stick-side of Riopel, giving the Walleye their first lead of the game.
Toledo capped off three goals in 4:18 just moments later after setting up a high-slot play to Tylor Spink. Matt Caito dished the puck to Spink, who hammered a one-timer into the goal, building a two-goal advantage for the home team heading into the first intermission.
Midway through the second period, the Walleye attack maintained its efficiency and Toledo’s lead reached a game-high three goals. Berschbach found a soft spot in the Kalamazoo zone and was able to rip a wrist shot into the far-side corner of the goal for the fourth strike of the night for the Walleye.
Trailing by three but not giving in, the Wings took over the second half of the second period and were rewarded for their efforts. Kyle Bushee steered the puck to the net from the blue line, and after it was stopped by Paterson, the rebound landed on the stick of Cam Darcy, who slapped it into the back of the net to slice the Wings’ deficit to a pair of goals entering the third period.
In the opening minutes of the final frame, Kalamazoo sliced the Toledo lead to a single goal. Gaining the line with speed, Darcy dropped the puck off for Charlie Vasaturo at the right-side point, and his wrister flew through a web of screens in front of the net and into the top corner of the goal for his first career playoff strike.
Trailing by a goal and on a power play with Riopel on the bench, the Wings fired some last-ditch efforts towards the goal of Paterson, but the Walleye netminder made each required stop and Toledo took game one of the best-of-seven series by a 4-3 score.
Next: Kalamazoo @ Toledo Walleye, Round One-Game Two (best-of-seven series)- Saturday, April 15, 7:35 p.m., Huntington Center.
Broadcast information: Saturday’s game will air on AM 1660 The Fan in Kalamazoo or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live.
Notes: Toledo leads the best-of-seven series, 1-0… Schneider has points in 15 straight games dating back to March 5… Darcy has points in 11 of his last 12 games… Kalamazoo went 0/3 on the power play and Toledo went 0/1… Riopel made 18 saves and Paterson stopped 27 shots…Kalamazoo outshot Toledo 30-22.