TOLEDO, OH – The Toledo Walleye played host for a top-five matchup Friday night, as the South Carolina Stingrays came to town to take them on. Prior to the matchup, the teams ranked first and fifth in the ECHL respectively, so the contest would prove to be a good challenge for both teams. The Walleye were also looking to extend their winning streak to five games as they began their Pink in the Rink weekend. Starting goaltenders for the contest were Jeff Jakaitis for South Carolina and Pat Nagle for Toledo.
As the game began it quickly became apparent that Toledo was going to dominate the first period. The Walleye outshot the Stingrays five to two early in the first five and a half minutes of play until the first penalty of the game was called against Paul Geiger. Toledo only managed to get one shot on that power play but were given another chance on the man advantage at 9:22 when Steven Whitney was called for hooking. The second time around was much more successful, as the newest Walleye Colin Jacobs picked up a rebound in front of the crease to squeak it past Jakaitis and put Toledo ahead 1-0. Shortly after the goal, Kevin Tansey was sent to the box for hooking, but Toledo was able to kill off the penalty to preserve the lead. Jakaitis played an excellent first to keep his team in it, as Toledo outshot the Stingrays 15-4 by the time the intermission arrived.
Penalties were the theme of the second period, as both teams combined for seven infractions throughout the timeframe. The first player was sent to the sin bin at the 2:44 mark, South Carolina’s Dylan Margonari for holding, and the last being handed out to A.J. Jenks with less than a second remaining in the second. In between was plenty of back and forth hockey as South Carolina made much-needed adjustments for the second. Despite playing much better in this period, South Carolina managed to put themselves in a bind late in the period. Kris Bindulis earned a two-minute break in the box due to a slash at the 14:43 mark. Then to make things worse for SC, Marcus Perrier tried to clear the zone but sent the puck cleanly over the glass to give the Walleye 51 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time. Toledo’s power-play unit took full advantage and punished the Stingrays when Simon Denis ripped a shot past Jakaitis for his 6th goal of the season for a 2-0 Walleye lead. As mentioned earlier Jenks would end the period by getting called for tripping, which would come back to bite him in the third.
South Carolina began the third on the power play thanks to Jenks’ tripping call and went to work quickly. After just 14 seconds of third-period action, Kelly Zajac would get the Stingrays on the board with the power play goal to cut the lead to 2-1. Toledo would respond almost immediately though, due to the hot hands of Dylan Sadowy. Just under a minute after the Stingray goal, the Red Wings prospect would redirect a shot taken by Parker Reno from the blue line to re-establish the two-goal differential. Toledo used the newfound momentum to outshot South Carolina nine to three over the next nine minutes. That ninth toledo shot would come off the stick of Mike Borkowski, and that shot would send the puck into the back of the net at 12:07 to put Toledo ahead 4-1. Five minutes later the Stingrays would try to mount a comeback when Joe Devin pulled SC to within two goals when he scored his 16th goal of the year, but it was to no avail. Even after pulling Jakaitis with over two minutes remaining, the Walleye and Nagle withstood the late assault until South Carolina took a final penalty at 19:35 to seal the win for Toledo.
With his win tonight Pat Nagle extends the Walleye record for consecutive wins to 10 straight games, as well as improving his record to 28-4-2-1. Jeff Jakaitis falls to 15-6-2-0 with the loss. Toledo outshot South Carolina 36-20 while going 2-for-8 on the power play, South Carolina went 1-for-3 on the man advantage.
Toledo has now won five straight games and will look to extend it to six straight with a rematch tonight against the Stingrays.
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