TOLEDO, OH – Fans had been waiting since May 13th for Walleye hockey to return to the Huntington Center and were treated to a show by their hockey club. Rebounding from their first loss of the season last Saturday in Fort Wayne, the Walleye were able to shut down the visiting Mallards thanks to a stifling defense and an action-packed first period. Pat Nagle earned his second win of the year, as Toledo downed the Mallards 3-0.
The starting goaltender for Quad City was Ivan Kulbakov, and as mentioned prior, Nagle got the start for Toledo. It didn’t take long for the Walleye to draw first blood when Kevin Tansey ripped one past Kulbakov 1:31 into the game to give Toledo the 1-0 lead. From that point on Toledo took control of the game. Quad City was only able to get four shots on goal during the first period, while Toledo blasted Kulbakov with 16 shots in 20 minutes of hockey. It took over 15 minutes for those shots to find pay dirt, as Simon Denis scored his first goal of the season on the power play at 17:45 to make it 2-0. The power play was a result of Garrett Klotz serving a too many men on the ice penalty, and it was the first power-play goal for the Walleye this season.
Less than a minute later things got a little wild when Chris Leibinger laid out Zach Nastasiuk at the blue line as Nastasiuk went for the puck. Kevin Tansey and Connor Crisp came to his aid, with a great fight between Crisp and Klotz highlighting the affair. Once the dust settled and the Mallards ended up with a power play, which backfired when Christian Hilbrich and A.J. Jenks went to work shorthanded. Hilbrich shot the puck and as it went through the crease deflected off of the skate of Jenks and into the back of the Quad City net with two seconds left in the first period, giving Toledo a commanding 3-0 lead.
From that point forward, Nagle carried the load. The second period saw more action for the former Komet, as he turned away all 11 shots faced during the period. At least three of those saves were gems made within the dots, as Quad City kept good pressure on when they able to get out of their zone. A quick glove, fast pillows, and some kind bounces helped ensure Nagle’s perfect save percentage for the night.
Not to be outdone, Kulbakov put on an astounding performance to keep the game 3-0, with multiple point-blank stops from the likes of Nastasiuk, Jenks, and Berschbach. In a 30-second sequence midway through the second, Nagle made four quick saves after a breakaway, and with some help from the post, kept Toledo from scoring.
Only one penalty was assessed during the period, when Sam Warning was called for slashing in an act of frustration after the whistle at 17:35. Toledo was unable to score on the resulting power play.
Finally, the third period came and provided a lot of back and forth hockey. Both teams had plenty of chances to take the puck up the ice, but found it difficult to get more than one shot off in a possession. Nagle and Kulbakov continued to be brick walls, and could not be bested by any shooter. Two more penalties were called on the Walleye in the third, Darian Dziurzynski for hooking at 3:26 and Jenks for cross-checking at 8:39, along with a penalty to Quad City’s Leibinger for slashing at 4:33. Shots in the third ended up being 9-8 in favor of Toledo, and the Walleye dominated the shot counter with a 40-23 advantage for the game. Nagle ended up with a 23 save shutout, as Toledo closed out the Mallards 3-0. The Walleye’s penalty kill unit continued to shine, as they prevented a Quad City power play goal in all five attempts throughout the night.
Your three stars for the game were all Toledo Walleye, with the third star going to Simon Denis (PP goal), second star to Kevin Tansey (GWG), and the first star to Pat Nagle for his first shutout as a Walleye.
Toledo will now be off until Thursday night when they travel to Reading to take on the Royals.