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Dickinson’s goal lifts Walleye over Komets in overtime thriller

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – TJ Hensick netted two goals in regulation, Billy Christopoulos made a season-best 34 saves, and Josh Dickinson saved the day with a game winner as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Fort Wayne Komets for their first overtime victory of the year.

The Walleye’s Thanksgiving victory in Fort Wayne marked the Fish’s fourth win in the last five games. Toledo leapfrogged the Komets in the Central Division standings with the win to take control of the division lead with a 9-5-0 record.

Fort Wayne got off to a fast start, netting a goal just 48 seconds into the contest. Corbin Baldwin and Nick Jermain assisted Will Graber on the goal to give the Komets the 1-0 lead. Butrus Ghafari picked up a slashing penalty at the 3:46 mark, leaving the Walleye short handed for two minutes before the Fish earned their first penalty kill of the game. 

Matt Murphy entered the penalty box with 6:11 gone for tripping, and TJ Hensick evened the score with a power play goal 30 seconds later, his tenth goal of the season. Randy Gazzola and Josh Dickinson earned the assists, with Dickinson extending his point streak to five games.

Fort Wayne’s Corbin Baldwin was called for holding the stick at 9:53 and Toledo’s Austin McIlmurray received a slashing penalty at 18:44, but neither team capitalized with the man advantage, leaving the score tied at one apiece heading into the first intermission. The Walleye outshot the Komets, 10-6, in the first frame.

The Walleye and Komets played a mostly quiet second period until the 13:39 mark when Fort Wayne’s Kellen Jones and Toledo’s Cole Fraser each received penalties, resulting in four-on-four hockey. Just ten seconds later, TJ Hensick netted his second goal of the game to give the Walleye their first lead. Hensick now leads the ECHL in goals (11) and points (23). Just like the first goal, Gazzola and Dickinson earned the assists. 

At 14:15, Dickinson entered the penalty box for slashing to leave the Walleye with just three skaters to the Komets’ four. Jones and Fraser returned to the ice at 15:39, and Toledo earned the successful penalty kill with 16:15 gone to bring the Walleye back to full strength.

With 1:24 remaining in the second period, Tyler Busch received a roughing double minor while Butrus Ghafari picked up a two-minute roughing penalty. The penalties gave Toledo the man advantage for the remainder of the period, and the Walleye entered the final frame with a 2-1 lead.

Toledo and Fort Wayne played a clean third period with neither team earning a penalty in the final 20 minutes of regulation. Fort Wayne got off eight shots to Toledo’s five, netting the game-tying goal with 6:52 gone. Tyler Busch earned the equal strength goal with assists from Will Graber and Marcus McIvor. Toledo could not score in the final 13 minutes, sending the Fish to overtime for the first time this season.

Both teams had multiple scoring opportunities in the seven-minute overtime, taking control on each side of the ice throughout the period. Ultimately, it was Toledo who came away with a sudden death goal with just 8.6 seconds remaining, preventing a shootout and giving the Walleye the 3-2 victory. Josh Dickinson netted the game-winning goal on an assist from Matt Berry to extend his goal streak to five games. Dickinson now has nine goals on the season.

Toledo was outshot, 36-27, by the Komets, but the Walleye took advantage of their opportunities as two of the the Fish’s three goals came in periods when they had a shooting disadvantage. The Walleye scored the lone second period goal despite taking nine shots to the Komets’ 16. Toledo’s game-winning goal came in an overtime period where Fort Wayne outshot the Walleye, 6-3. Both teams had three opportunities with a man advantage, with Toledo scoring the lone power play goal in the first period.

Billy Christopoulos made a season-high 34 saves to earn his third straight win in net for Toledo. He holds a record of 5-2-0 on the season. Samuel Harvey picked up his first loss of the season for the Komets, saving 24-of-27 shots in 66:51 minutes.

What’s Next:

The Walleye return to the Huntington Center Friday night for the first contest of a three-game homestand, taking on the Indy Fuel for the third time this season. Puck drop is set for 7:15 p.m. in Toledo.

Three Stars:

  1. Toledo – Josh Dickinson (game-winning goal, two assists)
  2. Fort Wayne – Will Graber (goal, assist)
  3. Toledo – TJ Hensick (two goals)