TOLEDO, OH- After ending 2017 with a 3-0 loss at Fort Wayne, Toledo looked to rebound against another Central Division opponent. The Cincinnati Cyclones were in town looking to extend their winning streak to three straight and creep closer to the top spot in the division. Toledo, on the other hand, sought to keep both Fort Wayne and Cincinnati in the rearview mirror in regards to the division standings. Your starting goaltenders for the game were Pat Nagle for Toledo and Jason Kasdorf for the Cyclones.
Nagle was tested early and often to start the period, which would remain a theme for the rest of the game. The Cyclones put six shots on net within the first five minutes, while Toledo only got three. Following a shot by defenseman Davis Vandane at 4:20, Toledo would not record another shot on goal until there were 13 seconds left in the period. Cincinnati posted plenty of chances in the meantime to keep Toledo pinned back. Nagle did an excellent job controlling his rebounds and keeping the game scoreless despite having to face 13 shots throughout the period. When Ryan Obuchowski was called for slashing with 3:17 remaining, the penalty kill unit put in a strong performance and prevented a shot against Nagle. As a result of a lack of Walleye offense and good goaltending from Nagle, the game remained scoreless at the first intermission.
Missed opportunities would be the phrase to use when describing Toledo’s second period. After two early shots on Kasdorf, the Walleye got their first power play of the game when Cincinnati’s Devante Stephens was called for a hook at 2:13. Shane Berschbach and Kyle Bonis both put shots on Kasdorf in an effort to get Toledo on the board, but it the Cyclones struck first. Toledo gave up a breakaway while on the man advantage, and Shawn O’Donnell carried the puck into the Walleye zone with a teammate on the left side of the zone. O’Donnell went to pass the puck across the slot, but Walleye forward Erik Bradford got a stick on the pass to break it up. Unfortunately for Nagle and Toledo, the puck deflected off of Bradford’s stick, bounced off the ice, and went into the left side of the net as Nagle shuffled to the right as he tracked the pass. A tough break for Toledo that gave O’Donnell a shorthanded goal and his team a 1-0 lead. Following the goal, both sides would trade shots until Toledo had one of their best offensive series of the game starting at 15:53. The Walleye put five shots on Kasdorf in just over three minutes, with multiple prime chances and juicy rebounds squandered due to hesitation from Toledo’s shooters and swift covers by the Cyclones netminder. With only six seconds remaining in the period Austen Brassard was called for interference, giving Cincinnati their second power play of the game that they would take into the third period.
On the man advantage to start the period, Cincinnati had a golden chance to widen the gap against Toledo. The Walleye penalty kill continued to show it’s dominance though, as they killed off the penalty and prevented a shot on goal. It took 5:52 for the first shot on goal in the third to be registered by Austen Brassard. The shot came from a Walleye rush into the Cyclone zone but was followed by a counter rush from Cincinnati that found paydirt. On the counter rush, the Walleye defense lost track of Cyclone forward Justin Vaive which resulted in him receiving and putting the puck into a wide-open net after 6:02 of action. Now down 2-0, Toledo needed a chance to get back into the game and got that chance 42 seconds after the Cyclones goal. Devante Stephens was once again sent to the box, this time for slashing, allowing the Walleye power play a second attempt to score. Again, many opportunities presented themselves, but the Cyclone penalty kill unit blocked most of the Walleye shots before they got to the net. Tyler Barnes managed to get a puck through to Kasdorf, but the netminder stopped it without issue. Hesitation continued to be a burden as well, as Walleye players could not make crisp passes or snappy shots, which allowed Kasdorf that split second to prepare for the shot. Following the failed power play, Toledo got one last push from their offense starting at 12:45. Over a two minute timeframe the Walleye peppered Kasdorf with six shots, but once again Toledo failed to get on the board. The final nail in the coffin came at 14:46 when Winston Day Chief scored the third and final goal of the game to put the Cyclones up 3-0. Despite a penalty to Justin Vaive with a little over four minutes left in the game, Toledo would fail to score and was shut out for the second straight game 3-0.
A strong first period allowed the Cyclones to finish with 31 shots on goal as compared to Toledo’s 29. The Walleye would have had many more shots than this, but the Cyclone defenders blocked numerous shots throughout the night to negate the Walleye offense. With tonight’s loss and Fort Wayne’s victory, Toledo has slipped to second place in the Central Division. Cincinnati is now two points behind Toledo. All three stars of the game were members of the Cyclones, and from third to first were: Jason Kasdorf with a 29 save shutout, Shawn O’Donnell with the game-winning goal, and the first star went to Justin Vaive with the insurance goal.