Janesville, WI - This game between these two NAHL North Division squads saw both teams make goalie changes, a combined seventeen penalties, a combined nine goals, and a penalty shot...and that was just the first two periods. Eventually, the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings would end up on the winning side of this shootout thriller; they defeated the Janesville Jets by the score of 6-5.
Just as they did the previous night, Janesville struck early in Saturday night's contest. With only two minutes gone in the first period, Janesville took the 1-0 lead on Kalamazoo when Connor Lemirande (7th) found the back of the net.
The Jr. K-Wings were able to respond to this goal midway through the first period when Trevor Boyd (8th) was able to drive home the loose puck in front of the Jet crease and tie the game up at one.
Moments after Boyd's goal, Robbie Payne (20th) created a turnover behind the Janesville net, and he was able to get the wraparound goal to give Kalamazoo the 2-1 lead. This goal came just a few seconds into a Janesville power play, and it was the first shorthanded goal of the year for Kalamazoo.
The special teams of the Jr. K-Wings would not be done scoring points. At the 17:46 mark in the first, the Jr. K-Wings took advantage of a 5 on 3 situation, and Payne was able to find Kyle Gattelaro (6th) in the slot for the backdoor goal.
After the Gattelaro goal, Kalamazoo still found themselves on the power play. Again, they were able to capitalize on this opportunity. Kody Polin (2nd) continued to make an impact with his new team and extended the Kalamazoo lead to 4-1 as the two teams went to the locker room for the first intermission.
The Jets would come out of the first intermission with a different goalie, as Brock Kautz took over for Austin Priebe. The Jets came out firing in the second, and scored less than five minutes into the period when Zach Diamantoni (6th) got the even strength goal to cut the Jr. K-Wing lead to 4-2.
The rest of the second period would belong to Janesville. Jason Ford (13th) recorded his first goal of the evening at the 7:01 mark when the Jets found themselves with two extra attackers on the ice. Ford capitalized on the rebound opportunity from the Todd Koritzinsky backhanded shot attempt from the slot.
Kalamazoo's penalty kill, which had been so solid, again let them down on Ford's next goal at the 8:02 mark. Ford was able to score on a loose puck just outside of the Kalamazoo crease for his 14th goal of the season. This goal tied the game up at four goals apiece.
The Jr. K-Wings lost the lead with 8:49 remaining in the second period when Koritzinsky (2nd) drove a wrister home from the top of the circle to give the Jets the 5-4 edge. This goal would be the end of the road for Alex Okicki, as he was replaced by Marcus Due-Boje.
The new goaltenders had an immediate impact on the game, with both being able to halt the opposing team's momentum. However, Kalamazoo was finally able to get one past Kautz at the 14:40 mark in the third period when Brett Beauvais (4th) was able to score the game-tying goal.
It seemed only fitting that such a back and forth contest would require an overtime session, and that is exactly what happened. When overtime failed to yield a winner, a shootout was needed. In the shootout, Due-Boje continued his hot streak for the Jr. K-Wings, stopping all four shots he faced. The Jr. K-Wings got scores from Gattelaro and Kody Polin and were able to win the game by the score of 6-5.
With the Soo Eagles losing in a shootout, and the Jamestown Ironmen losing in regulation, Kalamazoo now leaves Wisconsin as a co-leader of the NAHL North Division with 58 points.
Official game stats can be found at http://pointstreak.com/prostats/gamesheet_full.html?gameid=1993821
The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings will not play again for nearly two weeks. Their next contest will be on Friday, February 8th, when they take on the Michigan Warriors in Flint, MI.