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Final Regular Season Records:
Fort Wayne: 43-19-4-6 (96 pts)
Kalamazoo: 41-23-4-4 (90 pts)
Game Schedule (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and All Times Local):
Game 1 – Fri., April 17 –Kalamazoo @ FORT WAYNE 8:05pm EDT
Game 2 – Sat., April 18 — Kalamazoo @ FORT WAYNE 7:35pm EDT
Game 3 – Wed., April 22 — Fort Wayne @ KALAMAZOO 7:00pm EDT
Game 4 – Fri., April 24 — Fort Wayne @ KALAMAZOO 7:30pm EDT
*Game 5 – Sat., April 25 — Fort Wayne @ KALAMAZOO 7:30pm EDT
*Game 6 – Mon., April 27 — Kalamazoo @ FORT WAYNE 7:35pm EDT
*Game 7 – Wed., April 29 — Kalamazoo @ FORT WAYNE 7:35pm EDT
*= If Necessary
Season Series Recap: The Kalamazoo Wings and Fort Wayne Komets are no strangers to each other, having already played 15 times this season. It could not have been more even, as each team won 7 games in regulation and one was settled in overtime.
Leading Scorers: Fort Wayne is lead offensively by Shawn Szydlowski who has 38 goals and 74 points. The trio of Szydlowski, Embach, and Faille combined for 89 of Fort Wayne’s 251 goals on the year. That’s an astonishing 35%. Faille and Szydlowski each scored 7 goals against the Wings this year during the regular season.
The Wings top goal scorer is Ludwig Blomstrand. He had 33 goals during the regular season. Other top offensive talents for Kalamazoo are Matt Caria and Gergo Nagy. Caria is the team leader with 55 points and Nagy has 54. Forward Dane Fox has had the most success out of anyone in the 15 regular season games by scoring 9 goals against Fort Wayne.
Fort Wayne Fact: The Komets haven’t lost on home ice since February. They lost 2 straight at home on the 27th and 28th of February, but neither in regulation. They haven’t lost at home in regulation since January 30th. Fort Wayne only lost 5 games at home in regulation all season long.
Kalamazoo Fact: The Wings penalty kill is significant to their team and it’s good. Kalamazoo had 1053 penalty minutes during the regular season and had the 6th best penalty kill in the league. The Wings don’t just kill power plays; they score on their opponents as well. The Wings scored 11 goals shorthanded and that also was the 6th best in the league.
How Fort Wayne Wins: In order for Fort Wayne to win the series, they just have to be themselves. It was noted that they haven’t lost a home game since February and that’s significant as the Komets host 4 games. Additionally, with the 2-3-2 travel format, it’s extra stressing on Kalamazoo to have to win 3 straight in order to protect their home ice. If they aren’t able to win 3 in a row, Kalamazoo will have to win 2 games in Fort Wayne. The Komets averaged scoring almost ¾ of a goal more per game than their opponents during the regular season. They won’t be that successful here, but if the Fort Wayne forwards can create some space from the Wings defense, they will win the series.
How Kalamazoo Wins: The Wings have proven this season that they can hang with the Komets. I predicted early in the season that they would battle the Komets for the division crown. If Kalamazoo hadn’t had such a horrendous November and December, I still believe they would have been a contender to win the division. Shutting down the fire power of Szydlowski, Embach and Faille will be necessary for Kalamazoo to win this series. When home, Kalamzoo can use last change to pair the defensemen they want on the Komets wingers. Trying to limit Szydlowski, Faille and Embach is no easy feat, but it’s easier when a coach pairs who they want on them. Additionally, Kalamazoo will have to win one, maybe 2 games in Fort Wayne. They did do it twice during the regular season which is more success than any other team has had, but they may have to do it again within a 7 game span.