Kalamazoo Wings A Part of ECHL’s First Battle Between Black Coaches
The Kalamazoo Wings continue to set history in the ECHL but also just in the general game of hockey.
Last year, they hosted and were a part of the first game to be played on rainbow ice during their pride night. This year, they decided to get the party started early this year as they etch their name into the history books again just two games in.
Joel Martin is taking over as the head coach of the Kwings after spending three years on the bench as an assistant and spending 15 years playing professional hockey. Martin played 9 seasons for the Wings before retiring in 2018 with many ECHL goaltending records and won the Colonial Cup in 2005-06 for the Kwings. Now, he holds yet another meaningful ECHL hockey record to his name.
Wednesday morning the Kalamazoo wings took on the Cincinnati Cyclones and ultimately were handed a 2-1 loss as the Cyclones scored a late short-handed goal for the win. The Cyclones climbed to 2-0-0 while the Wings fell to 0-2-0, but the score and records weren't the biggest headlines coming out of the game. Instead, it was all about the head coaches for these two squads.
Obviously, this year is huge for Martin as it's his first year as a head coach and he's taking over a program he used to play for, meaning he knows what they are capable of and will be expected to produce great talent. During this game, he got to step away for a second and realize that he was actively a part of something special.
Martin was in a battle within the game that turned out to be significant for the entire ECHL. Every game is like a chess match between head coaches as they strategize and move their players around to give their team the best chances to win. It's like two kings fighting for land but in this case, it's something worth so much more. Martin was battling against Jason Payne to come out with the win in the first ECHL game between two black head coaches.
Payne is also in his first year as a head coach after spending two years on the bench as an assistant. He was around for their league-best 51-13-8 record and is looking to keep the momentum going as he takes the reigns. Ultimately Payne and the Cyclones would be too much for Martin and the Wings as Payne takes the first battle between the black head coaches.