Despite taking more shots, Trashers fall, face elimination
By Tim Clark
DANBURY, Conn. With the Kalamazoo Wings leading the Danbury Trashers two games to one in the best of seven series, the Trashers needed a solid performance from everyone in game four to even the series. The Trashers had been out-shot by the Wings 126-66 coming into Friday nights contest. Despite those numbers Danbury goaltender Sylvain Daigle stonewalled 115 Kalamazoo shots through the three previous games.
Daigle is seeing the puck very well, Kalamazoo Wings coach Mark Reeds said. Hes a great goalie, there is no doubt about it. Hes proven it time and time again.
Daigle certainly keeps us in the game and they dont get any they shouldnt on him which allows us to stay in the game, Danbury coach Paul Gillis said.
Even with Daigles stellar performances the Trashers offense has yet to really find a way to crack Kalamazoos Joel Martin who leads all playoff goaltenders in wins, save percentage and goals against average.
After Wednesday nights game three loss to the Wings, the Trashers were scrutinized for their lack of intensity to begin the game and were looking to change some things around for game four.
One difference from Wednesday match, however, was evident before the puck even dropped. Nestled amongst the nearly 3,000 Trashers faithful sat a large group of die-hard K-Wing fans and family of the players. Known as one of the most hostile places to play in the UHL, thanks in part to Danburys infamous section 102, the players found it comforting to see some of their own fans cheering them on inside the Danbury Ice Arena.
Its great that we have fans that are willing to drive 12 hours to come watch us play, Martin said. Obviously that motivates us. They cheer us on and it helps a lot.
Both teams shared the early tempo of the game as each taking shots at the others net. Halfway through the first period the K-Wings began to find a rhythm and peppered the Danbury net with shots.
Mike Manley got the Wings on the board first at 14:13 of the first period, skating into the slot and firing a wrister past the blocker of Daigle for a 1-0 lead.
The Wings out shot the Trashers 18-11 in the opening frame that saw only the one goal scored.
Danbury came out hard in the second, completing their passes and creating numerous scoring chances. Still the Trashers were still unable to break through Martin.
Shawn Collymore finally tied the game up at one after skating around the Kalamazoo net and backhanding a shot past Martins blocker. Sergei Durdin and Frederic Belanger assisted on the even strength goal at 8:15 of the second period.
With one goal on the board, the home team continued to fire shot after shot at the Wings net. Only the brilliant play of Martin and some timely clears by the Wings defense kept them from taking the lead.
With Collymore and Jason Deitsch both in the box for matching roughing calls and Belanger off for holding, Kalamazoos offense began to come alive again. Tyler Rennette gave the Wings back the lead after skating through the slot and depositing the puck top-shelf on Daigle at 19:26. Nick Bootland recorded the only assist on the power play goal that quieted down a very rowdy Trashers crowd.
The Wings skated into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead, but only out shooting the Trashers 32-29 at that point.
Down by a goal in the third period the Trashers relied heavily on physical play. Kalamazoo proved equal to the task, however, neutralizing Danburys physical presence while preserving the one-goal lead through much of the period.
At 6:25 of the third Belanger knocked Rennette into the boards and got hit with a boarding minor. Rennette lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped to the dressing room. The veteran Wings forward did not return to action. Reeds listed his condition as day-to-day.
With Rennette and Lucas Drake out of the lineup (Drake suffered a facial injury in the first period and did not return either) the Wings had to play a smart defensive game against the dangerous Trashers offense for the remainder of the game.
With under two minutes remaining Gillis pulled Daigle for an extra attacker. The Trashers, however, were unable to sustain much pressure in the Kalamazoo zone with the six-on-five advantage and narrowly avoided two different empty-net attempts by the Wings. When the dust settled the K-Wings emerged victorious beating the Trashers 2-1 and extending their lead in the Colonial Cup finals to three games to one.
Daigle finished with 41 saves for the night, while Martin stopped 25 of 26 shots.
They are a very good hockey club and we talked about them all along, Reeds said. Their backs are against the wall. We knew they were going to come out tonight and throw everything at us. We were as prepared as we could be for it. Joel Martin made some big saves when we needed him. We got a big goal from Tyler Rennette when we needed it. (Its) game of inches, again, and obviously it could have gone either way.
Gillis thought his team fought hard despite the outcome and hopes that with the same kind of effort the Trashers can avoid elimination in game five.
I thought we gave a total team effort, Gillis said. I thought (the Wings) got some momentum with some penalties in the first. They got a little momentum in the second when we were doing well and then we got a couple penalties. Other than that I cant be unhappy with any of our guys. I think that we competed hard for 60 minutes. We gave ourselves a chance. We had opportunities to put a couple in. They buried one of their opportunities and we didnt.
Gillis talked with his players before the game reminding them the importance of the contest and what a win or a loss means in terms of the series after the final horn sounds.
Today was a huge game, Gillis said. Every game you are playing in the playoffs is a huge game. We put a big emphasis it and unfortunately we came up short and now are biggest game will be (Saturday night).
Even with a three to one series lead the Wings understand that no lead is safe, especially with a team such as Danbury.
I think weve got to come to play with a lot of desperation and try and win a game tomorrow, Martin said. We only have three and we dont want to let them back in the series. I think the guys are going to play desperate and I just have to come out and do my job again.
Extras: A sell-out crowd of 3,005 fans attended the contestJohn Searle handled refereeing duties Martin earned the number one starInterestingly enough, Ryan Barnes on had two shots on goal and two minutes in penalties but was still named the third star of the game while Daigles performance stopping 41 of 43 shots apparently didnt merit inclusionThe game was delayed nearly 10 minutes in the second period when a dasher-board advertisement began to peel off. The peeled edge stuck out far enough that the officials decided it needed to be bolted back down or taken completely off. After many unsuccessful attempts the advertisement was finally pulled off of the boards to the sarcastic cheers of many in attendance.