Kalamazoo, Mich. – The Evansville IceMen were unable to close out the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday night, but were able to extend their streak of point-receiving outcomes to six straight games. The IceMen have gained 10-of-12 possible points during those games.
Evansville owned a 2-1 lead early in the game’s final period when Kalamazoo Forward Eric Kattelus found twine for the ninth time this season at the 2:28 point of the third period. The equalizing goal that eventually forced overtime was assisted by Kalamazoo Defenseman Sam Ftorek and Center Brett Lysak. Kattelus has produced five of his nine goals this season against the IceMen.
For the third time this campaign, Evansville found itself in a shootout situation, which they have yet to prevail victorious in. IceMen shooters went 0-for-5 in the shootout against the Wings, who themselves struggled find the back of the net. The lone goal-scorer in the shootout for Kalamazoo was Kattelus, who earned the game’s third star consideration.
The first star of the game vote went to Kalamazoo Goaltender Joel Martin, who saved 38-of-40 shots faced as well as denying all five IceMen shooters in the shootout. Martin’s .950 save percentage assisted in improving his record to (9-8-2) on the season.
Evansville’s latest addition, Right Winger Kevin Baker, made an immediate impact for the IceMen, scoring both of the team’s goals on Friday night in his debut. Baker, voted the game’s second star, prevailed on his first goal in front of the Kalamazoo net halfway through the first period when he successfully jabbed home an initial shot by Center Todd Robinson. Baker’s first goal with the IceMen officially came 10:55 into the opening frame, the first assist coming from Robinson. The IceMen captain continues to lead the team in assists with 18. IceMen Left Winger Josh Beaulieu received credit for the second assist. Evansville has now scored the game’s first goal in six straight games.
The IceMen advantage lasted nearly the remainder of the first period. Kalamazoo’s Lysak scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season 18:03 into the period to tie the score with assists from Forwards Kattelus and Nick Sirota. Lysak has produced two goals and two assists against Evansville in the last two meetings between these North Division rivals.
The game remained tied at one apiece until Baker struck for his second tally of the game 7:18 into the second period. The power play goal that reestablished the IceMen lead was assisted by Left Wingers Anthony Nigro and Beaulieu. With his second helper, Beaulieu remains Evansville’s leading scorer with 23 points (11G, 12A).
Nigro returned to the IceMen on Friday after being reassigned to Evansville through AHL affiliate, Peoria Rivermen. Nigro joined the IceMen for a three-game stint earlier in the season before being recalled to Peoria on Oct. 30.
IceMen Right Winger Trent Vogelhuber saw limited playing time against the Wings as he made his return to the lineup after missing eight game due to a shoulder injury. Vogelhuber last played on Nov. 23 in a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Trenton Titans. Left Winger Matt Schepke made his IceMen debut on Friday after signing with Evansville earlier in the week. Not in the lineup for the IceMen in Kalamazoo were Center Nathan Moon and Defenseman Jesse Perrin. Moon is nursing a lower-body injury and Perrin was inactive due to personal reasons.
Evansville took its 2-1 lead to the third period, where it is now (9-1-2) when leading after two periods. Perhaps more noteworthy, Kalamazoo had yet to win a game this season when trailing heading into the game’s final frame, they are now (1-8-0) when doing so.
Goaltender Paul Dainton was capable in his IceMen debut, saving 32-of-34 shots and earning a .941 save percentage. Dainton was strapped with the loss against the Wings.
Evansville’s power play produced a goal for just the second time in its last 22 opportunities on Friday. The unit went 1-for-5 on the night (20%). The IceMen penalty killing unit, however, remained stout, halting all four man advantages faced. Evansville’s penalty kill has fought off 24 of the last 25 opponent power plays.
The IceMen continue to generate in December, earning points in all six of their games this month. Evansville’s December record is now 6(4-0-2) receiving 10-of-12 possible points. The team’s overall record calculates to 27(10-14-3)23. Kalamazoo avoided being bypassed by Evansville on Friday night in gaining the extra point. The Wings record improves to 24(11-11-2)24 on the season. Kalamazoo currently holds a one-point lead over the IceMen for fourth place in the North Division standings.
The IceMen continue their three-game road trip tomorrow night when they visit the Toledo Walleye. The game is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m CST and can be heard on ‘Magic 98.5’ FM and 1400 AM WEOA, along with the rest of the IceMen Radio Network.