WHEELING, WV- The Kalamazoo Wings have earned a reputation as being one of the better defensive teams in the ECHL, especially when they have the lead. After falling behind the Wheeling Nailers 1-0 on Sunday afternoon, Kalamazoo scored a pair of goals late in the first period, and defended that 2-1 lead all the way to the finish line, as the Wings were victorious in all three of their matches on the weekend. Collin Saccoman tallied the deciding goal for Kalamazoo, while Wheeling got its goal from Lukas Svejkovsky.
The Nailers opened the scoring, as their power play converted for the fifth time on the weekend. Kalamazoo goaltender Jonathan Lemieux turned the puck over to Dillon Hamaliuk in the trapezoid. Hamaliuk and Tanner Laderoute ultimately worked to find an open Lukas Svejkovsky, who lifted a backhander into the wide open top of the goal. The Wings were also successful on the man advantage in the first period, as they got the equalizer on David Keefer's one-timer from the left side of the high slot. Kalamazoo took the lead 2:56 later, when defenseman Collin Saccoman darted down the left side of the ice, then cut to the middle, where he chipped the puck into the top-right corner of the cage.
After being outshot 15-6 in the first, Wheeling rebounded to outshoot the Wings 9-6 in the second and 14-9 in the third. However, Kalamazoo's defense didn't allow many high quality chances, and both netminders were ready in case something slipped through the cracks. Neither of the final two frames saw a goal, as the Wings prevailed, 2-1.
Jonathan Lemieux collected the win for Kalamazoo, as he stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced. Taylor Gauthier was saddled with the defeat for the Nailers, despite making 28 saves on 30 shots.
The Nailers will play their next six games on the road, starting Friday in Iowa at 7:35. Wheeling's next home game is Friday, February 2nd against Orlando at 7:10, which is a Frosty Friday. Saturday, February 3rd is Pups & Pucks Night, when fans can bring their dog to the game and meet Clifford, courtesy of WVPB. The next Big Six Promotional Game is Pittsburgh Penguins Night on Saturday, February 10th, starring two-time Stanley Cup Champion Trevor Daley. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.