KALAMAZOO, Mich. Newly reassigned rookie forward Mike Forney got the Gwinnett Gladiators off on the right foot in an early game Wednesday with a short-handed goal in the final minute of the first period.
But Kalamazoo had the last word, scoring 2:28 into overtime for a 4-3 win over the Gladiators, who were in town for a 10:30 a.m. game.
Forney was sent to the team from AHL Chicago in time for the matchup and gave Gwinnett a 1-0 lead at 19:19 of the first.
Alternate captain Dan Sullivan was in the box for taking a hooking penalty that likely saved a goal and all-star defenseman Sam Roberts fired a loose puck around the end boards.
Matt Francis beat Louis Liotti to the puck and stormed up the left wing. Francis found Forney in front of the net and Forney tapped the puck under the arm of Wings goalie Ryan Nie.
The second period showed none of the stalwart defense of the first 20 minutes.
Darryl Lloyd struck just 1:18 into the period. After getting a quick break on goal, Danny Taylor made the initial stop on Lloyd. Lloyd tracked down the rebound and pushed it between the legs of Taylor to tie the game at 1.
Just over three minutes later, Kalamazoo took the lead. Mathieu Curadeau won an offensive zone draw back to Jon Landry, who blasted a shot. Trent Daavettila put the rebound home at 4:28.
But the Gladiators answered a couple minutes later when Sean Hurley scored his first goal of the season.
Forney and Tim Miller connected on a give-and-go in the right corner. Hurley recognized a delayed penalty being called on Kalamazoo and took the opportunity to crash the front of the net. Forney found Hurley in the slot and Hurley tipped it home at 6:55.
A power-play goal by Sullivan at 12:31 put Gwinnett ahead again.
Scott Mifsud and Adam Berti cycled the puck in the right corner, and Berti found Sullivan wide open in the slot. Sullivan quickly one-timed the pass through the five-hole of Nie for a 3-2 lead.
Former Gladiator Sam Ftorek scored on a breakaway late in the second, though, to tie the game once more.
After a flurry of scoring in the second, both teams held firm in the third and they moved to overtime where the Wings earned the extra point.
Landry found a puck at the top of the slot just along the blue line and blasted a shot through the pads of Taylor for the win.
But it was an important point for Gwinnett (25-23-4-2) which is mired in a nip-and-tuck race for the playoffs.
The Gladiators remain in Kalamazoo for a 7:30 p.m. game on Friday before heading to Toledo to round out the swing up north.