(Kalamazoo, Michigan) My friend and fellow hockey-fan-for-life, John Williams, and I battled east on I-94 through the rain and wind on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 to watch the Kalamazoo Wings skate to a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Tulsa Oilers. Having been raised on the old Original Six teams of the NHL, John and I have both been watching hockey long before the cows came home. So when I suggested we drive over to Kalamazoo on January 11 to see the Wings host the Oilers, weather permitting, John said: “Let’s do it.” And do it we did, complete with a leisurely pre-game dinner at a restaurant conveniently located near Wings Event Center. We made it to the stadium in plenty of time to purchase a pair of ducats right behind the Wings bench, found our seats without assistance and settled down to watch the Wings, who are affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL, force overtime against the Oilers in the last minute of the game. Meeting for the first time, the two teams spent the first period exploring one another’s weaknesses, with Wings goalie Joel Martin making 12 first-period stops. The Oilers drew first blood in the second period, on a goal by Miles Koules with an assisting pass from Emerson Clark. The Wings roared back in the third, tying the game with a goal by Scott Henegar. But then the Oilers capitalized on a two-on-one rush and went ahead 2-1 and looked to be the winners until Tyler Shattock tucked a top-corner wrist shot over Oilers goalie Jamie Phillips to put a ribbon on it with 34 seconds remaining in regulation.
Then, less than a minute into the five-minute overtime, Tanner Sorenson lifted the stick of a Tulsa defender, swiped the puck, carried in alone on Phillips, and pushed the puck over the goalie’s glove for the OT win. What a night!!! John and I agreed that minor league hockey has everything going for it that NHL hockey does, minus the crowds and high prices. Meaning we’ll be back to Wings Event Center before the close of the 2016-2017 season to see more exciting Wings hockey. By the way, the Wings are hosting Brampton Beast tonight, Friday the 13th, at 7 p.m. Tickets start as low as $10 and can be purchased at http://www.wings.com/tickets/schedule or at the Wings Event Center box office at 3600 Vanrick Drive, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001.