BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
The Road Warriors were focused on getting off to a better start on Friday night than they had in recent games, and followed that script to a “T.” With just 36 seconds gone by in the game, Brendan Connolly swatted a rebound past Kalamazoo goalie Riley Gill for a 1-0 lead. It was Connolly’s team-leading 20th of the season. Near the mid-point of the period Justin Bowers stole a pass at center, raced into the Kalamazoo zone, and gunned a wrist shot through Gill’s pads to pad Greenville’s advantage to two. Brandon Svendsen responded for Kalamazoo a few minutes later with his 12th goal of the season to cut the Road Warriors’ lead in half. Darryl Bootland nearly tied the game for the Wings on the power play, but he deflected a shot past Jason Missiaen with a hight stick and the goal was waved off. Missiaen’s 17 saves in the period allowed Greenville to take a one-goal lead into intermission.
A four-goal second period by the Wings left the Road Warriors in a four-goal hole before they began to dig out with a power play tally from Brett Robinson. Matt Matczak started the Wings’ roll with a shorthanded goal 50 seconds into the period. He followed that up with a 5-on-3 power play goal at 5:38 and the lead grew to two 40 seconds later with a 5-on-4 power play marker from Trent Daavettila. At 12:21 Justin Taylor snapped a one-timer past Missiaen for Kalamazoo’s biggest lead to that point at 5-2. The Road Warriors had appeared to close the gap to 4-3 earlier, but Connor Shields was ruled to have deflected a shot with a high stick. Robinson’s 5-on-3 power play goal pulled Greenville back within two with 4:57 left before the intermission.
Greenville’s power play went to work quickly in the third period and received a goal by Marc-Olivier Vallerand to claw back within one of Kalamazoo at 5-4. The goal was Vallerand’s 17th of the season with assists going to Prough and Cunningham. Just a minute and five seconds after Vallerand’s goal Kalamazoo’s Bryan Haczyk snuck a shot through Missiaen’s pads and restored the Wings’ lead to two. With no change in the score, the Road Warriors pulled Missiaen for the extra attacker with just over two minutes to play. Despite consistent pressure, Greenville could not draw any closer and dropped its second straight road game.
Missiaen suffered his fifth loss of the season while making 42 saves. Greenville was 2-for-6 on the power play and 6-for-8 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return home to face the Gwinnett Gladiators on Thursday, January 12 at 7:35 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. Come out for a Throwback Thursday which features $2 draft beers, fountain drinks, hot dogs, and pretzels. College students can also get in for $6 with a valid ID. Throwback Thursdays are sponsored by WSSL 100.5, The Greenville News, and New Rock 93.3. You can also save on your tickets by bringing out a group of 10 or more! The Road Warriors offer discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability to groups who book in advance. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) for more info or to book your group.