The Week Ahead:
Friday Cincinnati Cyclones @ The Wings Event Center, 7:00pm
Saturday Quad City Mallards @ The Wings Event Center, 7:00pm
Tuesday @ Cincinnati Cyclones, 10:35am
The Wings went 1-2 on the week. The game started off on a high note as they went into Powerade Centre in Brampton and defeated the Beast 5-2 on Friday. Newcomer Anthony Camara displayed a bit of his offense as he scored twice. His first goal was an end-to-end rush that he finished by stuffing the wraparound home (rush starts at 1:38). Dajon Mingo added three assists while Tyler Shattock, Scott Henegar and Justin Taylor added goals. Joel Martin was in the net for the win, which now leaves him five shy of the all-time franchise record.
On Saturday Kalamazoo returned to Wheeling to avenge the 8-1 blowout loss from the previous week. Nick Riopel was back between the pipes looking for a better showing. He provided that as he allowed only one goal on 26 shots. Unfortunately his counterpart, J.P. Anderson, stopped all 24 Kalamazoo shots he faced and picked up the shutout in his season debut for the Nailers. Playing their third game in three days Wheeling played a tough, close-checking game.
“We didn't want to come in here and get into a run-and-gun type of game with them,” Wheeling coach Jeff Christian said of the 3-0 win, “we wanted to sit back and be opportunistic.”
Joel Martin was back in goal Wednesday as the Wings hosted the Toledo Walleye at the early start time of 10:30am. Unfortunately for Martin, the Kalamazoo offense must have missed the wakeup call as they were shut out once again by a score of 3-0. Martin made 27 saves while taking the loss, and the Wings fell to 5-4-0-1. They are 9 points behind the Tulsa Oilers in the Central division.
The Wings are hoping to improve their home ice record as they finally get to play two games in a row at the Wings Event Center with Cincinnati arriving Friday and then division rival Quad City on Saturday. They then head to Cincinnati on Wednesday for another 10:30 am start time. The Wings sport a 2-3 record on home ice. If they want to return to the playoffs, they will need to improve.
The Cyclones are 6-5 on the year and are led on offense by forward Andrew Yogan. The Coral Springs, FL native has 11 points in 9 games. He returned to the Cyclones after starting the year off playing in Europe with HC Bolzano (an Italian team that features former NHLer Nick Palmari on the roster). Yogan also played 4 games with the Crunch last year on a PTO contract and he scored 2 goals.
On Saturday, the Wings will salute the troops as they offer free tickets to the first 200 active/retired military members that show military ID at the box office. The team will also be wearing special jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game. Proceeds will benefit the Talons Out Honor Flight, an organization that flies World War II veterans from the southwest Michigan area to Washington, D.C., and back so that they can visit the World War II memorial.
Their opponents that night will be the Quad City Mallards. The Mallards, a Minnesota Wild affiliate, enter the weekend tied with Kalamazoo with 11 points. Former Wing Justin Kovacs leads them in scoring with 12 points in nine games. Kovacs signed in Quad City partly to be reunited with his USHL teammate Sam Warning. Warning, Kovacs and fellow Mallard Michael Parks all played together in Cedar Rapids when the RoughRiders won the Anderson Cup in 2011. It's like an ECHL version of the Lightning's Triplets Line.
Veteran forward Justin Taylor continues to put up points. The former Washington Capitals draft pick has 2 goals and 6 assists to share the team lead in points with Dajon Mingo. He is on pace to pick up 56 points, which would be a career high. Since the Wings have entered the ECHL in 2009, Taylor is the franchise leader in points and penalty minutes and is second in points behind Sam Ftorek.
Points: 8 – Justin Taylor, Dajon Mingo
Goals: 3 – Five players tied
Wins: 3 – Joel Martin
GAA: 2.31 – Joel Martin