There is a fine line between physical play and undisciplined play. On Saturday night the Kalamazoo Wings looked at that line, cross-checked it a few times and then speared it. The result, a 4-1 loss to the Toledo Walleye and a two games to none defect in the best of seven series.
The Wings had more than twice as many penalty minutes as shots (43 to 21), saw their captain, Ben Wilson, ejected for a cross checking major, and had to kill off a double-minor when Charlie Vasaturo picked up a spearing penalty. Not exactly the type of physical play coach Nick Bootland was looking for.
He also wasn’t looking for them to start slowly again. The Walleye used another quick burst of offense to establish a three-goal lead before the game was nine minutes old. Kyle Bonis scored three-and-a-half minutes into the game followed quickly by Tyson Spink (6:02 mark) and Evan Rankin (8:11 mark). Rankin’s power play goal was a nifty piece of hand-eye coordination.
.@Ev_Ranks Whatever works. pic.twitter.com/SDds79dqCs— Toledo Walleye (@ToledoWalleye) April 16, 2017
It was shortly after the Rankin goal that things started to get out of hand. First Kalamazoo forward Scott Henegar dropped the mitts with Landon Oslanski. Then captain Ben Wilson, well...he didn’t care for rookie defender Simon Denis being near his goalie. So he cross-checked him in the back. Then he cross-checked him again. Three more times he buried his stick into the Toledo player’s back.
Here's the video: Kalamazoo's Ben Wilson with 7 Cross Checks to the back of Simon Denis. Wilson was ejected. Will be suspended. pic.twitter.com/UD7mRiIfet— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) April 16, 2017
Wilson probably won’t be available for Game 3 in Kalamazoo on Tuesday as a suspension is most likely in his immediate future. Five minutes after the Wilson debacle, Vasaturo picked up his spearing double minor and Cam Darcy added an unsportsmanlike conduct as well.
The silver lining in all of the chaos is that the Kalamazoo penalty kill preformed fairly well, holding the Walleye offense to one for seven with the man advantage. As the game continued, things settled down for the most part. Joel Martin, who got the start in net for Kalamazoo, ended up stopping 30 of 34 shots as he tried to keep the Wings in the game.
They did manage to avoid being shutout as Peter Schneider continued his torrid pace with a short handed goal at the 17:43 mark. It wasn’t enough as the Wings failed to get another shot past Jake Paterson who won his second game in as many nights by stopping 20 of the 21 shots he faced.
The jynx works! #KWingsHockey gets on the board with @pschneids91 first goal of the postseason on the @Nicksgyroskzoo PK! pic.twitter.com/4Jv82sOrGz— Kalamazoo Wings (@KalamazooWings) April 16, 2017
Game 3 will be in Kalamazoo on Tuesday. The Wings will have to find a way to keep the Walleye from getting off to a fast start or this series will be over shortly.