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Back to work — Kalamazoo weekend preview

The Wings look for revenge against Wheeling and also play a morning game.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Dallas Stars
Former Bolt Mike Vernace and the Brampton Beast battle the K-Wngs Friday night
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Week Ahead:

Friday @ Brampton Beast, 7:15 pm

Sunday @ Wheeling Nailers, 5:05 pm

Wednesday Toledo Walleye @ the Wings Event Center, 10:30 am

Last Weekend:

The Wings had an eventful weekend and played three games in three days. They started with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Wheeling Nailers on Friday in the first part of a home-and-home. Eric Kattelus scored twice in the loss while Joel Martin stopped 43 of 45 shots.

On Saturday, they traveled to Wheeling and left their defense at home. The less said about the 8-1 loss the better. Charlie Vasaturo tied the game early in the first period with a power play goal, but from there on it was all Wheeling. Nailers forward Josh Shalla had himself a night as he racked up a hat-trick and added two assists for a nice five points. Since Martin was scheduled to start on Sunday, Nick Riopel stayed in net the whole night, surrendering the eight goals on thirty-four shots.

With two straight losses and the two-time Kelly Cup champion Allen Americans coming to town, things were looking dire. Kalamazoo jumped out to the early lead as Tyler Biggs scored on the power play. Tyler Shattock and Charlie Vasaturo also scored in the first. Biggs and Shattock both scored again, and the Wings held on to win 5-3 on their home (orange) ice. Joel Martin was back between the pipes and picked up his 190th win in a Kalamazoo uniform. He is six wins away from being the all-time leader for the organization.

Preview:

Kalmazoo heads out on the road for two games this weekend. The first stop is Brampton. Despite winning only two of their first five games, the Beast can brag that they are “undefeated in regulation” as their three losses have all come after regulation ended (1 overtime loss and 2 shootout losses). Their leading scorer is Luke Pither (with eight points) who played one game with the Syracuse Crunch last season on a tryout contract.

After a rare Saturday night off, the Wings head back to Wheeling to seek revenge from the 8-1 beatdown that the Nailers laid on them last weekend.

Wednesday will feature the Toledo Walleye at the unique starting time of 10:30 am. With a host of veterans on the team, the Wings coaching staff won't all the early start time to be an excuse. After all, as Coach Nick Bootland replied in an email when asked about it, “We practice at 10:00 am all the time.”

Hey, isn't that?

Mike Vernace – The 30-year-old Brampton defender played 10 games for the Lightning in 2010-11. He also spent two seasons with the Norfolk Admirals. He was traded to the Florida Panthers along with James Wright for Mike Kostka and Evan Oberg.

Team Leaders:

Goals – 3 – Tyler Biggs, Charlie Vasaturo, and Eric Kattelus

Points – 7 – Justin Taylor

Goaltending – Joel Martin 2 wins, 1.97 GAA and .943 SV%

Who's Hot:

The special teams unit. After starting the season 0-27 with the extra man, the Wings converted 6 of their 16 chances over the weekend. All six of their goals have come from the trio of Biggs, Vasaturo and Kattelus.

The success was a product of a dedicated practice on Wednesday, according to Bootland. “We spent Wednesday's entire practice working on the power play. Even our warm up drill was power play breakouts,” he said via email. The team worked on everything from breakouts to entries and did what they could to simplify the attack with the extra man. Also, Bootland said they “wanted their guys to stop being perfect. Shoot the puck and outnumber.”