TOLEDO, OH – After falling to Brampton 3-1 on Tuesday Toledo looked to get back into the win column Saturday night against the Kalamazoo Wings. The Central Division foes squared off for the second time this season at the Wings Event Center, with the Wings coming out on top in the first game. The starting goaltenders were Joel Martin for Kalamazoo and Pat Nagle for Toledo.
Shots on goal were few and far between during the first period of play, as it took over four minutes for Nagle to stop an attempt. Martin stopped a shot by Austen Brassard at the 1:46 mark, but could not stop Erik Bradford four minutes later. Fed by Parker Reno, Bradford was able to beat Martin with a blast from the right faceoff circle to put Toledo up 1-0 early. Kalamazoo responded with some pressure after Toledo’s goal, but only managed to get one shot through which was stopped by Nagle. Eight minutes after Bradford’s goal Toledo would strike again. Former Komet Mike Embach would gain control of the puck and let it go from the blue line, which Martin failed to corral. Now up 2-0, Kalamazoo tried to bring pressure against Nagle but couldn’t crack the Michigan native as the period would conclude with the same score.
The second period got off to a wild start with a quick penalty to Kyle Bushee due to tripping, giving Toledo their first power play of the game. Martin would be blasted with eight shots while a man down, eventually giving up the goal to Tyler Barnes to make it 3-0. Kalamazoo would respond a minute and a half later, as Danny Moynihan deflected the puck past Nagle to cut the lead to 3-1. Looking to build some momentum Kalamazoo would put more shots on Nagle, but Christian Hilbrich put a stop to the Wings rush. Hilbrich was somehow left unaccounted for in front of Martin and received a perfect feed from Barnes to roof it past the netminder for a 4-1 lead after 8:36 of play. Less than a minute later Jimmy Mullin skated in on Nagle to make a play but was taken down, and was rewarded a penalty shot as a result. Pat Nagle stood strong and came up with the critical save to keep it a 4-1 game, as he easily handled the attempt. All of this occurred in the first half of the period, but it wouldn’t transfer to the second half. Despite two more power plays, one for each team, only five more shots would be registered before the period concluded with a score of 4-1.
Kalamazoo finally got off to a good start in the third, controlling the pace early. After some early pressure, Brendan Bradley got another one past Nagle at 4:46 to pull the Wings to within two. A little over a minute later Toledo was given a chance to respond with their third power play of the night but failed to convert on the man advantage. Once that penalty expired no shots on goal occurred until a pair of penalties were handed out to Toledo, as the game neared its conclusion. With 6:04 remaining Parker Reno was sent to the box on a hooking call, and the penalty kill was handling itself well until Charlie O’Connor joined Reno in the box with a hooking call of his own to give the Wings 29 seconds of 5-on-3 time. It only took nine seconds of 5-on-3 time for Josh Pitt to find the back of the net and make it a 4-3 game with 4:24 left in regulation. Unfortunately for the Wings, their comeback would fall short thanks to a pair of empty-net goals by Toledo’s Shane Berschbach and Christian Hilbrich with 1:05 and three seconds left respectively. As a result, the final score in Kalamazoo would be 6-3 in favor of the Walleye.
Shots on goal ended in favor of Toledo 29-21. Pat Nagle continues to lead the ECHL with his 23rd win of the season for an overall record of 23-4-2-1, while Joel Martin falls to 18-12-2-2. Toledo’s next game is tomorrow (Sunday) as they will take on the Quad City Mallards.