Early Lead Can't Lift Wings over Stingrays in Game One
KALAMAZOO, MI - Despite a 36-save performance from Joel Martin, the Kalamazoo Wings couldn't overcome the quick-strike attack of the South Carolina Stingrays during a 4-1 loss in game one of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals match-up.
After both teams took the opening moments to feel each other out, the Wings were able to race to a lead after drawing their first power play try of the game. Crisp passing at the top of the circles allowed Alex Mallet to drive a one-timer on net that was initially saved by Mark Dekanich. However, Ludwig Blomstrand went unmarked and was able to tap home the rebound.
Not daunted by the early strike against, South Carolina evened the game just over five minutes later. Forcing a turnover in the Kalamazoo zone, Derek DeBlois connected on a cross-ice feed to Kelly Zajac, who fired a slap shot over a sliding Joel Martin and into the goal.
Midway through the second period, David Pacan took advantage of space along the left wing boards and pushed the puck towards Martin. Before the puck could be frozen, Caleb Herbert angled his stick and deflected the puck into the corner of the goal, giving the Stingrays a 2-1 edge.
Extending their lead less than one minute later, the Stingrays took advantage of a defensive breakdown in the Kalamazoo end, yielding an odd-man rush. Zajac moved the loose puck ahead, finding DeBlois, alone in front of Martin. With time at the goal mouth, Deblois snapped a wrist shot that zipped between the legs of Martin and over the line.
Five minutes into the closing period, Austin Fyten helped establish a decisive three-goal lead for the Stingrays. Pressure on the attack led to Fyten alone at the top of the right circle for a slap shot that was saved by Martin, but the rebound landed directly to the tape of the Stingrays' forward. Fyten's follow-up effort went over the glove of Martin and into the top corner.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. South Carolina, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals game two- Saturday, April 16, Wings Event Center, 7:00 p.m.
Notes: South Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Kalamazoo are now 4-2 all-time against South Carolina in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Martin made 36 saves on the 40 shots he faced. Kalamazoo's power play went 1/5, while the Stingrays went 0/3 on the man advantage. It was the first meeting between the two teams since March 7, 2014. Kalamazoo scored first for the eighth consecutive game.
Listen to all 72 regular season and post season games on AM 1660 The Fan in Kalamazoo, or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live. Live coverage begins fifteen minutes before puck drop with the Flame Tamer Pregame Show.
Single-game playoff tickets are now on sale! Tickets can be purchased at kwings.com or at the Wings Event Center box office. Box office hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. A $2 discount is applied on all tickets purchased before the date of the game. Any student that shows a valid ID can get tickets for just $11.
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