TOLEDO, OH – After a 47-20-5 record in the 2015-2016 campaign, the Toledo Walleye went into the 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs expecting to make a deep run. They didn’t expect though to lose in the first round to the eighth seed Reading Royals in seven games, a team that really proved themselves in the first round. The first match-up between two clubs since last year playoffs would be in Toledo on Wednesday night.
Through much of the first period, Reading controlled the play. It paid off with just over a minute remaining, Robbie Czarnick would blow past Tyson Spink before Matt Wilkins would chip it in on Toledo’s goalie Jake Paterson to give the Royals a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
The Royals would increase it’s lead in the second when Chris McCarthy went top shelf on Paterson, making it 2-0. Through two periods, Toledo and Reading would be tied at 20 shots a piece but a large majority of the shots were not of “high quality” for the Walleye.
In what would be a wild play, A.J. Jenks would be hit in the face with a high stick that went uncalled, leading to a Robbie Czarnick breakaway goal. Toledo would make the game interesting, though, Alden Hirschfeld scoring at 9:20 of the third period and Jordan Hill scoring his first goal in a Toledo uniform almost two minutes later. It was too little, too late, though, as Reading escaped Huntington Center with a 3-2 win. Toledo could blame the loss on several defensive breakdowns and going 0-for-4 on the power play.
In the end, this game felt like a rehash of last year first round series between these two clubs. Reading dominated and all Toledo could do was catch up. Both teams play for the final time year on Friday night.