EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Evansville IceMen beat the Kalamazoo Wings in dramatic overtime fashion at the Ford Center on Friday night. The physical bout between North Division rivals came to an end when IceMen Left Winger Kevin Baker scored a redirection goal just over the halfway point of the extra period . The first overtime triumph for the IceMen at home this season put now has them in a tie with the Wings for fourth place in the North Division standings. With the win, Evansville has won four of its last six games, while the Wings have dropped four of their last five games.
Baker’s power play goal, his 12th goal of the season, was assisted by IceMen Center Todd Robinson, who fired an initial shot from the nearside boards onto the redirecting stick of Baker. IceMen Defenseman Daniel Tetrault was credited with the second assist on the climactic game-winner that came officially at the 2:48 mark over extra time. Robinson was named the game’s second star with three assists on the night. The IceMen captain has 12 points in his last eight games and is second in the ECHL with 33 assists. Robinson’s 18 power play assists also ranks second in the league.
Kalamazoo Left Winger John May ultimately forced overtime, scoring his first goal of the season 6:09 into the third period and tying the IceMen at three goals apiece. The equalizer represented the comeback from a two-goal deficit that Kalamazoo faced on Friday. Kalamazoo Center Jonathan Higgins earned the lone assist on the break-even goal.
The Wings opened the scoring 3:51 into the opening period when Forward Nick Sirota gave the Wings a quick 1-0 lead. Sirota’s first of two goals on Friday was assisted by Kalamazoo Forward John Armstrong. Sirota massed his second goal of the game, 13th of the season, on the power play 17:54 into the 2nd period on his way to the game’s third star honor.
IceMen Defenseman Aaron Gens, the game’s first star, answered the initial Wings goal with his third goal of the season with just 40 seconds left in the first period. Gens now has accumulated nine points in his last eight games. The assists on Gens’ goal were credited to IceMen Left Winger Josh Beaulieu and Robinson. Gens’ first star of the game status was earned behind a one goal, one assist, and +2 rating performance against the Wings.
Evansville’s Beaulieu scored his 16th goal of the season on the power play and gave the IceMen a one-goal lead 1:40 into the second period. The first two goals for the IceMen on Friday came just 2:20 apart on the game clock. Gens gained his assist on the goal, while Robinson tallied his second assist of the contest. Beaulieu finished the game with one goal and one assist on the night, and still leads the IceMen in scoring with 36 points.
Evansville gained a commanding two-goal lead when Center Jason Dale found the back of the net for goal number seven on the season. The lamp-lighter that put the IceMen up on the Wings 3-1 was assisted by Left Winger Dylan Clarke and Defenseman Jake Obermeyer. The two-goal advantage lasted under two minutes as Kalamazoo’s Sirota made his presence felt once again.
IceMen Goaltender Paul Kapowich earned the victory on Friday after saving 35-of-38 shots faced, acquiring a .921 save percentage. Karpowich stifled a number of quality Wings scoring chances, with two of them coming in the 13th minute of the middle period when he made robbed Kalamazoo Right Winger Alexandre Grenier and Defenseman Sam Ftorek in a matter of 30 seconds. Karpowich improves his record to (7-8-2) on the season.
Kalamazoo Goaltender Joel Martin is pinned with the loss after saving 26-of-30 shots, earning a .867 save percentage. Martin declines his record to (14-16-4) with the overtime loss.
After being blanked on Wednesday, the IceMen power play unit went an efficient 2-for-3 on the night, and have now gone 7 for their last 28 (25%) on the man advantage. Evansville’s penalty killing unit allowed one goal on five chances by the Wings. The IceMen penalty kill had successfully stopped 20 straight opponent man advantages until Sirota scored on the power play on his second goal of the game. Kalamazoo outshot the IceMen 38-30, representing only the sixth time in the last 19 games that an opponent has outshot Evansville.
The IceMen are now (5-2-1) in the month of January and have triumphed in four of their last five home games. In their last five games at the Ford Center, Evansville has outscored visiting opponents, 17-7. The statement win on Friday marks the third consecutive time the IceMen have defeated the Wings at the Ford Center, with all three of those victories coming by one goal. Evansville moves above the .500 mark in North Division matchups with an (11-10-3) record.
The IceMen better their overall record to (16-22-4) on the season and are now tied with the Kalamazoo Wings (16-19-3) with 36 points each.
The IceMen will engage in another critical North Division affair on Saturday, Jan. 19 when the Toledo Walleye visit the Ford Center. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. and will be broadcasted by ‘Magic 98.5’ FM and 1400 AM WEOA, as well as the rest of the IceMen Radio Network.