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Eight is great as Walleye defeat Wings in preseason finale

Eight is great as Walleye defeat Wings in preseason finale

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye tallied four power play goals as they closed out the preseason with an 8-5 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday before a preseason-record crowd of 6,184 at the Huntington Center.

Tyler Spezia notched a pair of goals and an assist as the Walleye captured their second win against Kalamazoo in as many nights. Kevin Tansey also contributed a goal and an assist in the middle period for his second consecutive multi-point effort, while Daniel Leavens logged three assists.

Toledo raced ahead to another early lead as Shane Berschbach started the scoring at the 3:17 mark of the opening period. On an eventual 3-on-1, A.J. Jenks had his opportunity from close range pushed aside by the right pad of Jake Hildebrand, but Berschbach was positioned at the left post to bury the rebound into an empty cage to give the Walleye a 1-0 edge.

The hosts continued to apply pressure and doubled their advantage just over five minutes into the first frame. After Luke Nogard sent a no-look pass to Matt Register at the right point, the three-time CCM/ECHL Defenseman of the Year sent a wrist shot from the top of the right circle between Hildebrand’s pads.

Eric Yitalo responded for Kalamazoo exactly one minute later when he gained the zone and sent a wrist shot from the right circle inside the left post to trim Toledo’s lead to 2-1.

The Walleye netted their first power play marker on a bizarre sequence with 1:14 to play in the opening stanza. Jordan Topping was credited with his first goal of the preseason when his pass was deflected by Ben Wilson and gloved into the Kalamazoo net by a leaping Brandon Anselmini to make it a 3-1 contest.

The hosts scored twice in quick succession early in the middle frame to build a commanding 5-1 lead. Tansey capitalized on the man advanatge with a wrist shot from the right point 1:45 into the period, before Spezia fired a snapshot from the left circle at the 4:11 mark to send the home faithful into a frenzy. However, the Wings would not go away quietly, scoring three unanswered goals to take a 5-4 deficit into the second intermission.

The Walleye put the game beyond any doubt with a trio of insurance markers in the final period. Spezia potted his second goal of the night when his pass through the goal mouth ricocheted off a Kalamazoo stick and trickled between Keegan Asmundson’s pads to give Toledo a 6-4 edge. 

Nearly five minutes into the third, Bryan Moore won an offensive zone faceoff and had his initial effort repelled by Admundson, but Moore picked up his own rebound and sent it through the Kalamazoo netminder’s five-hole to extend the lead to 7-4. An eight goal arrived on the power play when Hayden Hodgson gathered the puck in the slot and fired a wrist shot inside the left post to restore Toledo’s four-goal cushion. Zach Diamantoni wrapped up the scoring for Kalamazoo with a consolation goal with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation.

The Walleye finished 4-for-11 on the power play, while Kalamazoo connected on three of eight opportunities. Pat Nagle claimed the victory after stopping 32-of-37 shots, as Asmundson picked up the loss after turning aside 9-of-12 shots in the third period in relief of Hildebrand.

What’s Next:
The Walleye open their 10th ECHL regular season on Friday, Oct. 12 when they open a five-game road trip against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Puck drop from Bon Secours Wellness Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Three Stars:
1. TOL – Tyler Spezia (two goals, assist)
2. TOL – Kevin Tansey (goal, assist)
3. TOL – Daniel Leavens (three assists)

Fish Tales:

  • The Walleye and Wings were assessed a combined 78 penalty minutes. Bryan Moore and Kyle Thomas paced their respective clubs with eight PIMs.
  • Prior to Saturday's game, the Toledo Walleye released defenseman Jake Faiella and goaltender Mason Pulde from their professional tryouts.