TOLEDO, OH – The Kalamazoo Wings and Toledo Walleye played an old-school slugfest on Saturday night which saw the Walleye earn a 4-1 victory on home ice at the Huntington Center and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Central Division Semi-Finals series.
The Walleye put forth an inspired first period effort, and their quick-strike attacked shined in the first twenty minutes. Just 3:34 into the contest, Kyle Bonis put the Walleye on the board after scooting in behind the Wings’ defense and lifting a wrister that beat Joel Martin. Less than two and a half minutes later, Tyson Spink poached a loose puck at the side of the goal and belted it into the net to help propel the home team to a 2-0 edge. The Walleye’s high-scoring first period continued two minutes later, as Evan Rankin wrapped around the back of the net, and after it was poked away, Rankin swatted the puck out of mid-air and tucked it into the goal, giving Toledo a three-goal lead at the first intermission.
In the middle stages of the first period, Ben Wilson accumulated 17 penalty minutes when he did this to Walleye defensemen Simon Denis:
— Justin A. Cohn (@SportsiCohn) April 16, 2017
Denis would play a few more shifts, but was lifted in the second period and did not return to the game. His status for game three is questionable and it remains to be scene what discipline Wilson will receive for the incident.
After the physicality of the first calmed down, the Walleye tacked on to their lead midway through the period. Rankin found a way behind the Kalamazoo defense and he carried towards the goal unmarked. Rankin slipped a wrist shot past the left leg of Martin and earned a 4-0 lead for Toledo.
Rankin’s goal was the only strike of the second period, and the Wings went into the break after two periods facing a four-goal deficit.
Evening out the play in the third period, the Wings would tally the only goal of the final stanza with less than three minutes remaining and while killing a penalty. Tyler Biggs drove the puck deep into Walleye territory and dished in front of the goal for Peter Schneider, who swung the puck past Toledo goalie Jake Paterson to break up the shutout and get Kalamazoo on the board.
The series will shift to Kalamazoo for game three on Tuesday night.