TOLEDO, OH – ECHL Central Division rivals Kalamazoo and Toledo looked to give their fans the gift of a win before heading into the holiday break, and Kalamazoo was looking for revenge for Sunday’s loss at the Huntington Center. Toledo, on the other hand, was looking to extend their win streak to four games. Your starting goaltenders for the contest were Matěj Machovský for the Walleye and Joel Martin for Kalamazoo.
Toledo started the game with a bit of a hiccup, as freshly signed forward Daniel Gentzler was sent to the box for tripping 38 seconds into the game. The league’s best penalty kill unit was able to keep Kalamazoo off the board, but it was a short-lived victory. A little over two minutes after the power play, at the 4:55 mark, Tyler Biggs scored the first goal of the game to put Kalamazoo up 1-0. Another two minutes passed and Toledo got their chance to respond when Lane Scheidl was called for slashing when he tried to break up a Tyler Barnes and Kyle Bonis two on one break. Toledo put four shots on Martin during the ensuing power play, but could not even up the score. They saw the hole get deeper at the 16:16 mark when Justin Taylor put Kalamazoo up 2-0. The Wings got a two on one break after stopping a Walleye rush, and Taylor’s pass across the slot deflected off a sprawling Kevin Tansey and went five-hole on Machovský. Some bad luck for Toledo and a heads up play by the Wings that paid off for the home team. Toledo applied excellent pressure during the last minute of play in the period, but Martin was not to be fooled and the score remained 2-0 by period’s end.
At the start of the second period, the Walleye were doing everything right in response to being down 2-0, as they came out controlling the pace of play for the first three minutes. Toledo put five shots on goal during that time, but could not get on the board. Past the opening three minutes, both teams traded shots and chances until Gentzler earned another trip to the box for tripping at 9:21. Unfortunately for Toledo, the penalty kill was unable to cancel out the man advantage, as Taylor scored his second goal of the game at 9:57 to put Kalamazoo up 3-0. A minute later both teams had a skater sent to the box, leading to four on four hockey that did not result in any goals or additional calls. Toledo outshot Kalamazoo six to three over the last seven minutes of the period, with another strong final minute of play with four shots in 41 seconds, but Martin was once again spectacular and kept the game 3-0 after two periods of play.
Now down by three, the Walleye once again came out in the third peppering Martin to try and make something happen. Unlike the second period, however, Toledo was able to strike. Erik Bradford finally got a shot past Martin at 5:53, his seventh goal of the season. Toledo was unable to use the momentum though, as the teams traded shots throughout the period without a goal until the 15:31 mark. It was at this point that Justin Taylor completed the natural hat trick, when he once again beat Machovský to put the Wings up 4-1. Despite the late period pressure, the score would hold as Kalamazoo would go on to win the game.
Shots on goal finished in favor of Toledo 36-30, who had plenty of opportunities throughout but were beat in part thanks to stellar play from Joel Martin. With the win, Martin improved to 10-6-2-1, while Machovský fell to 3-5-0-1. All three stars of the game were Kalamazoo players, and from third to first were: Kyle Blaney with two assists, Joel Martin with 35 saves on 36 shots, and Justin Taylor with the natural hat trick and game-winning goal.
Toledo’s next game with be December 27th at the Huntington Center, when the Walleye take on the Indy Fuel. Until then, happy holidays!