TOLEDO, OH – After a memorable game 5 which saw an A.J. Jenks game-winner with 23 seconds left, Toledo went into Kalamazoo for game 6 on Sunday afternoon looking to close out the series, a place Toledo struggled mightily in games 3 and 4 giving up 14 goals.
Toledo started the game well and putting a lot of pressure on Kalamazoo early with Landon Oslanski scoring at 3:04 for the Walleye, capitalizing on a very nice pass from Nolan Zajac. Zach Nastasiuk added another marker at 6:06 of the first period. Kalamazoo got on the scoreboard when Blake Kessel went in all alone on Jake Paterson to make it 2-1 Walleye after one period.
Kalamazoo would continue to carry the momentum to the second period. On a pass from Cameron Darcy, Lane Scheidl tied the game at 2 on a beautiful backhand. Brian Hart would give Kalamazoo it’s first lead of the game at 13:41 of the period. In a sequence that saw multiple rebounds, Josh Pitt would score late in the second period on a loose puck making 4-2. After such a nice start, Toledo gave up four convective goals and their defense would continue to be an issue, as it has been the last few games in the series.
On a power play in the third period, Toledo would score at 15:23 of the period from Tyson Spink but it was too little, too late. Joel Martin made 28 saves to give Kalamazoo a big game 6 victory. Another big note from game 6 is Kalamazoo’s top scorer Justin Taylor taking the puck to face and would be out for game 7.
With the loss, it will be Toledo fifth convective game 7 since 2015 and the first for Kalamazoo in their team history.
In game 7 Tuesday night, over 7,000 fans poured into Huntington Center to watch the Walleye advance to the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs.
The first period saw no goals from either team. Jake Paterson muscled away all 13 shots he faced in the first frame. Toledo went 0-1 on the power play, while the Wings did not play with a man down.
Jeff Lerg came into the game early in the second period in relief of Paterson. Kyle Bonis broke the tie with his 6th goal of the postseason at 16:11 of the second on a gorgeous feed from A.J. Jenks. Kalamazoo quickly tied it up a minute later on a deflection in font of Lerg. Kalamazoo recorded 6 shots on net compared to Toledo’s 11 in the middle frame.
Evan Rankin again broke the tie 8:29 into the third with his fifth of the postseason, leading the Walleye to a 2-1 lead. Nastasiuk wristed one past Martin seconds later, extending the Toledo lead to 3-1 in front of the deafening crowd.
The Walleye will square off against the Fort Wayne Komets in the Central Division Finals this Friday and Saturday at home.