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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

6-2 K-Wings win; Colonial Cup on line for Thursday

It is all or nothing Thursday night in Rockford, as the United Hockey League Colonial Cup Final game seven needs to be played between the tied Rockford IceHogs and the Kalamazoo K-Wings. A 6-2 home win by the K-Wings Tuesday in K-Wings Stadium made certain of that.

The game was marked by a two goals within ten seconds of each other, two short handed goals and two goals by Kory Karlander that put the game away. Every game of the series has been won by the home team.

For the IceHogs, this is their final UHL game. Next season the team affiliates with the Chicago Blackhawks, who will be moving their Norfolk Admirals prospects of the American Hockey League, to Rockford. After that, the IceHogs will be playing, in the same league as the Chicago Wolves and the Milwaukee Admirals. A victory would raise a banner on a different team. None of the current players are expected to be signed by the Blackhawks.

For the K-Wings, a victory would clinch their second consecutive Colonial Cup.

In any case, the UHL has floundered with teams in Flint and Port Huron, Michigan likely to fold. The Elmira, New York team has joined the ECHL. The Quad City Mallards are exploring joining the AHL under the Calgary organization. If the league survives, only five teams could be playing next season.

Derek Ryan scored the first goal of the night Tuesday, a wrister that beat Frederic Cloutier and gave the K-Wings a 1-0 lead. TEN SECONDS passed before the Hogs tied the score, off the face-off, Kevin Ulanski fed a pass to Chaz Johnson who beat Ryan Nie. Nick Bootland put the Wings ahead again later in the period.

In the first minute of the second period, Ulanski, Johnson and Nicolas Corbeil led a 5:2 rush that Nie refused. But on the rebound Ulanski put it in the net to tie. At 8:48 Tyler Brown fired a rocket over the shoulder of Cloutier for the permanent lead. Four minutes later, Rockford on the power play, lost the puck. Lucas Drake picked up the loose puck and beat Cloutier with a short handed goal.

Rockford came back with a 5:3 power play late in the period. A goal by the Hogs was disallowed as Johnson was in the crease. Early in the third period Karlander, who leads the series with 13 goals, scored the first of his two. His second came on the Penalty Kill, mid-way through the period he scored on an empty net. A 5:3 power play by Rockford following, did not convert.

“We’re playing for everything now and I don’t think there is anyone in the (locker) room who thinks we can’t win in Rockford,” Karlander told the Kalamazoo Gazette.

“Every guy on this team has seen (the veterans rings) from last year,” Lucas Drake told the Gazette, “we’ve got pictures of that trophy in the (locker room). We know what we’re playing for.”

“We played great at home,” Rockford coach Steve Martinson told the Rockford Register Star, “Now we have to go back and make sure we’re ready on Thursday.

“Their big guys scored. That’s the way it’s been,” Martinson said to the Star, “When their line is scoring, we’re not getting enough from our other lines.”

“We just didn’t come out and have everybody playing. I’m flabbergasted. We need every guy on the ice,” IceHogs captain Nathan Lutz told the Rockford Register Star. “They (the K-Wings) played an unbelievable game against the other team’s top line.” Only one Rockford line produced any goals. “Our other lines have to produce, plain and simple,” Lutz said, “we’re not going to get it done unless they do.”

Cloutier received the loss with 25 saves on 30 shots. Nie received the win, stopping 24 of 26 shots. Game seven, the winner of which receives a banner, rings and the Colonial Cup, will be played at the Rockford MetroCentre Thursday 7:30 PM.

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