TOLEDO, OH – After a rough home-stand last week, the Toledo Walleye needed to get back on track. Injuries and call-ups had severely hampered the team, as their offense hasn’t been clicking, along with a defense that has struggled as of late. Toledo started the weekend on the road playing the Brampton Beast.
In what would be a quiet first period, Toledo and Brampton played an even game. Toledo outshot the Beast to start the game, but Brampton finished the period in favor of shots on goal at 9-7.
Four minutes into the second period, Christian Hilbrich would just get a shot past Beast goaltender Marcus Hogberg. Toledo’s offense wasn’t done though, as forward Erik Bradford would make it 2-0 on a nice shot. It was a period that saw Brampton get off to slow start and got their first shot at 10:35 into the period. Brampton would find their offense though as Daniel Ciampini would score on a blast, his first goal in a Brampton uniform after beating Pat Nagle. Connor Crisp would change the momentum in Toledo’s favor as Hogberg would lose it out in front late in the second period at 19:41. The period would conclude with a score of 3-1.
Much like the spurts they had in the second period, Brampton played well as Reggie Traccitto would score on again a big blast at 9:04. The Beast would out-shoot Toledo 14-7 for the period. It would be too little too late though as Shane Berschbach would score an empty-net goal at 19:11, his first game since returning from injury. Austen Brassard would put the cap on the scoring at 19:48 to make it 5-2. Toledo would also hold the Beast to 0-for-4 on the power-play for the night.
The next night, Toledo returned to Huntington Center to play the Atlanta Gladiators. Toledo started the game slow, but got things going late into the period. The Walleye would withstand the Gladiators attack end up out shooting them 11-5 by the time the period ended.
In what would be a physical second period, Tanner Pond put a hard hit on Shane Berschbach and Simon Denis responded by standing up for his teammate and fighting Pond only 4:10 into the period. After a nasty cross-check from the Gladiators defenseman Josh Atkinson, Kyle Bonis would score on the resulting power-play at 5:17 to give Toledo a 1-0 lead. In a shot Toledo netminder Matej Machovsky should have made the save on, Pond would find the back of the net at 14:20 for Atlanta to tie it up. Toledo’s offense continued to roll as Tyler Barnes would score at 15:40. After a well placed pass from Berschbach, Denis would also find the back the net at 17:30 to give Toledo a 3-1 advantage. Thanks to more good passing, this time from Brassard and Bradford, Dylan Sadowy would find the net at 18:52 of the period to make it 4-1. Just like how the period started, a fight would highlight the final minute of play in the second as Kevin Tansey and Luke Sandler would drop the gloves to keep the intensity cranked up..
The third period saw both teams take seven shots throughout, but only the Walleye found paydirt. Toledo’s offense came through one last time, as Parker Reno would score on a shot that Atlanta’s netminder Dan Vladar should have had. The goal came with 2:06 remaining, and Toledo would go on to down Atlanta 5-1. A game Toledo played very well: going 3-for-6 on the power-play after struggling all last week on it. Toledo outshot the Gladiators 34-20 for the game.
The Walleye concluded their weekend with a Central Division contest against the Kalamazoo Wings. Starting goaltenders for the game were Pat Nagle for Toledo and Michael Garteig for the Wings, as Nagle looked to get his second win in three days.
The action started early at the Huntington Center, as the home team found themselves down early. On only their second shot of the game, the Wings got on the board when J.T. Stenglein got his first goal of the season after 1:46 of playing time. Toledo was quick to respond though, as Simon Denis tied the game up two minutes and ten seconds later as he beat Garteig for his fourth goal of the year. Toledo controlled the flow of the game for the next nine minutes, preventing Kalamazoo from getting a shot on goal while firing six shots against Garteig. The Canadian netminder withstood the Walleye pressure though, and shortly after the Wings went to their first power play of the night. Christian Hilbrich was called for a boarding minor at 12:56, but it was Toledo who ended up with the best scoring chance. Having just been returned from Grand Rapids, Luke Esposito got a breakaway shorthanded to challenge Garteig without a Wing to be found, but Garteig made a crucial save to keep the game tied. The Walleye ended up with two shots on goal while a man down, Kalamazoo failed to test Nagle during that same timespan as Toledo’s penalty kill handled business. From the 16:47 mark onward, the Wings controlled the puck and put six shots on goal until the end of the period, but the teams went to the locker rooms tied at one.
After taking the ice for the second Toledo put four shots on Garteig over the first five minutes, while it took Kalamazoo over five minutes to get one shot on Nagle. Hilbrich picked up his second penalty due to delay of game at 5:48, and this time Kalamazoo took advantage. After a 1:32 of power play time Lane Scheidl put Kalamazoo back in the lead with a power play goal. Less than a minute after the Wings’ goal they went a man down, as Justin Taylor was called for hooking. Now it was time for Toledo’s power play to respond, and it only took 35 seconds for Hilbrich to make up for his earlier penalties by scoring his team leading 12th goal of the year to tie the game at 2. Kevin Gibson was caught tripping a Kalamazoo skater 30 seconds later though, so the Wings had yet another chance to regain the lead. This time however, Toledo’s penalty kill unit kept Kalamazoo off the board. Less than a minute after killing off the penalty Esposito finally cashed in, beating Garteig to get his first goal with Toledo and the Walleye’s first lead of the game 3-2 at 11:51. The rest of the period progressed with only four total shots on goal with a slowed pace, and the second finished with the score remaining 3-2.
In what turned out to be the final period of the weekend, fans at the Huntington Center were treated to an action packed finale. Only 16 seconds in Charlie O’Connor came down the right boards and ripped a shot which Garteig stopped, but the rebound went right to the stick of Erik Bradford who put Toledo up 4-2. Kalamazoo once again responded quickly, and 33 seconds later Brendan Bradley snuck behind the Walleye defense and put it past Nagle when he couldn’t go post to post in time. Now 4-3, Kalamazoo ramped up the pressure to attempt to tie the game. The Wings were rewarded for their persistence, as Taylor made up for his previous penalty by sneaking past Reno and positioning himself on the far side of the net by himself. Eric Kattelus got the pass across, and Taylor had the easy goal at 4:52 as Nagle had no chance to stop the puck. Now tied at 4, the teams traded shots until Taylor was on the wrong side of a penalty call, which gave Toledo their second power play of the night at 11:22. The Wings successfully killed off the penalty, but were unable to keep the game tied shortly after. Less than a minute after the end of the Taylor penalty, Toledo got the lead once again thanks to a goal by Kevin Tansey at 14:12. Tansey’s goal proved to be the game winner, despite Garteig getting pulled with 2:03 remaining in the game, for a final score of 5-4.
Pat Nagle improved to 14-2-2-0 with the win, while Garteig fell to 2-3-0-0. Shots on goal ended up at 28-26 in favor of Toledo, along with the Walleye going 1 for 2 on the power play. Kalamazoo went 1 for 3 on the man advantage. The three stars of the game were all Walleye, and from third to first were: Charlie O’Connor with two assists, Christian Hilbrich with a goal and an assist, and Kevin Tansey earned first star with his game-winning goal.
After a perfect weekend with three straight victories, Toledo once again has climbed up to third place in the league. Toledo’s next game will be a rematch against Kalamazoo on Friday night, when the Walleye will head up to the Wings Event Center.
This weekend recap was a collaboration between Alex Wolff and Michael Scott.