TOLEDO, Ohio – For the fourth consecutive season, the Toledo Walleye are heading to the Kelly Cup Playoffs, and have won the regular season division title for the fourth time in a row as well. Both are franchise firsts, but the ultimate goal is to win the Kelly Cup. Toledo has a good amount of momentum heading into the first round after winning eight of its final ten games. To go along with the momentum, reinforcements from Grand Rapids leaves Toledo poised to make a deep run in the postseason. The first team to stand against the Walleye: the Indy Fuel in the Central Division Semifinals.
It took until the very last game of the season, but the Indy Fuel made the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history. With taking on the Walleye in the first round, Indy has their work cut out for them. That said, a team that has won six out of their last ten and only lost one of those games in regulation, will be no walk in the park for Toledo. Indy Fuel head coach Bernie John will likely ride a hot goaltender in Étienne Marcoux. Marcoux played the last six games of the season and won four of them. One of his two losses came in a back-and-forth game against Toledo in overtime when Indy had to win to clinch a playoff spot.
Final Regular Season Records:
Toledo Walleye: 50-17-3-2, 105 points (Central Division & Western Conference regular season champs)
Indy Fuel: 36-30-5-1, 78 points (4th in Central Division, 6th in Western Conference)
Series Schedule (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and all times Eastern):
Game 1 – Friday, April 13 – Indy at TOLEDO 7:35 pm ET
Game 2 – Sunday, April 15 – Indy at TOLEDO 5:15 pm ET
Game 3 – Wednesday, April 18 – Toledo at INDY 7:05 pm ET
Game 4 – Thursday, April 19 – Toledo at INDY 7:05 pm ET
*Game 5 – Saturday, April 21 – Toledo at INDY 7:35 pm ET
*Game 6 – Tuesday, April 24 -Indy at TOLEDO 7:35 pm ET
*Game 7 – Wednesday, April 26 – Indy at TOLEDO 7:35 pm ET
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
Toledo took the season series over Indy 8-1-0, which would make it appear as though it was rather one-sided. Five of those games were decided by one goal though, and of those games, two went to overtime after Toledo negated late Fuel leads. So, despite the lopsided results overall, the season series was in fact quite competitive with Toledo finding ways to earn most of the wins.
How Toledo Wins:
For Toledo to find success in these playoffs, they must rely on the players that got them to where they are now. The goaltending, particularly that of Pat Nagle, has been the strong point of the team all year. If Nagle plays well, Indy will have a tough fight on its hands. Toledo’s offensive stars will need to play a crucial part as well, with Kyle Bonis, Shane Berschbach, Mike Borkowski, A.J. Jenks, and Dylan Sadowy all being players to keep an eye. It’s hard to nail down one player in particular, as Toledo’s well balanced offensive attack has thwarted many teams this year. Indy may prove to be another team to fall as a result of this lethal offensive.
How Indy Wins:
Coming into the playoffs, Indy will be looking to their veterans for some leadership and to take control of games. One of those leaders will be Josh Shalla, who has racked up eight goals in his last six games of the season, practically pushing Indy to their first playoff berth. Not only will Indy be looking for a strong veteran presence, but they’ll also be looking for their Rockford players to make their presence known. So, with a team that has played very well in their last ten games and is hot at the right time, beating Indy will be no easy feat for the Toledo Walleye.
Playoff Preview is a collaboration between Michael Scott and Mark Grainda
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