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Big names return to lineup as Walleye fall to Idaho

Big names return to lineup as Walleye fall to Idaho

BOISE, Idaho – Bolstered by the return of four forwards to the active roster, the Toledo Walleye restored parity twice in the second period, but the Idaho Steelheads netted a pair of goals early in the final frame to secure a 4-2 decision on Wednesday at CenturyLink Arena.

Dylan Sadowy and Tyler Spezia rejoined the Walleye (23-9-3-0) following stints with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, while A.J. Jenks and Hunter Smith each made their 2019 debuts after missing time due to injury. Pat Nagle turned away 29-of-33 shots – including 18-of-19 in the opening period – as Toledo was dealt its first setback in three regular season meetings against Idaho (21-11-1-2).

Steven McParland struck first for the Steelheads exactly 14 minutes into the contest. Jeff King’s initial slapshot from the right point was blocked by Nagle, but the rebound ricocheted off the stick of Reid Petryk and straight to McParland in front for a tap-in.

Toledo carried the play to begin the second stanza, and evened the score courtesy of Matt Register’s sixth goal of the season. Smith gained the puck behind the Idaho net and centered the puck to Register, who fired a turnaround shot from the right circle into the top left corner at the 4:17 mark.

Idaho recaptured its lead on an odd-man rush 6:57 into the middle stanza when Elgin Pearce set up Keegan Kanzig at the edge of the right circle for a wrist shot past a sliding Nagle.

T.J. Hensick tallied his fourth goal in as many games to put the visitors back on level terms. After taking a stretch pass from Zach Urban at the left half-boards, the ECHL’s leading scorer raced toward the net and tucked a shot past the left pad of Tomas Sholl with 4:40 left in the second.

The hosts jumped back in front 46 seconds into the final period. Nagle steered aside Kyle Schempp’s effort from the right circle, but McParland collected a bouncing puck in the slot before spinning around and sliding the puck inside the left post for his second goal of the night. 

The Steelheads padded their lead at the 3:47 mark when King’s shot from the right point hit traffic in front and ricocheted to Robbie Payne in the high slot for an effort into an open cage.

Idaho finished 0-for-4 on the power play, while Toledo was unable to convert on three opportunities. A 2019 ECHL All-Star and Bowling Green State University alumnus, Sholl blocked 29-of-31 shots to collect his 13th victory of the campaign.

What’s Next:
The Walleye return to CenturyLink Arena on Friday and Saturday for their final two regular season matchups against the Steelheads. Both contests start at 9:10 p.m. EST.

Three Stars:
1. Idaho – Steven McParland (two goals, assist)
2. Idaho – Jeff King (three assists)
3. Idaho – Keegan Kanzig (goal)