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Hawkins’ two goals not enough as Walleye fall to Cyclones, 3-2

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye jumped out to an early lead in Game 2 of the Central Division Semifinals but could not come back from a one-goal second period deficit as the Cincinnati Cyclones defeated the Walleye, 3-2, to even the series at one.

Brandon Hawkins scored both goals for the Walleye, giving the Fish a 2-1 lead in the first period before Cincinnati took the lead late in opening frame. Toledo held the Cyclones scoreless for the remainder of the contest but could not find the back of the net to force overtime. Cincinnati’s win tied the series at one game apiece ahead of three straight road games for the Walleye.

Hawkins only took nine seconds to give the Walleye the lead, finding the back of the net from the left circle for his first goal of the playoffs. Chris Martenet and Randy Gazzola assisted as Hawkins scored on the first shot of the game.

The Cyclones responded at the 6:12 mark to tie the game at one. Justin Vaive found the back of the net on a rebound of Jesse Schultz’s shot to put Cincinnati on the board.

With 14:10 gone, Sean Allen entered the penalty box for Cincinnati, putting the Walleye on the power play for the first time. At 14:49, Brandon Hawkins shot the puck from straight on and connected for his second goal of the game. Matt Berry and John Albert recorded the assists on the power play goal to put the Walleye back in front.

That lead lasted just over a minute before the Cyclones tied the contest again on a Luc Brown goal. Lincoln Griffin and Dajon Mingo assisted on the goal at the 16:00 mark.

The Cyclones took the lead for the first time with 18:57 gone in the first period as Justin Vaive scored his second goal of the game. Schultz and Wyatt Ege assisted as Cincinnati took the 3-2 advantage into the first intermission. The Cyclones held the 16-10 shot advantage through one period.

The Walleye and Cyclones skated to a scoreless second period despite chippy play from both teams. Toledo and Cincinnati combined for five penalties, putting Cincinnati on the power play twice and the Walleye on the man advantage once.

The Walleye ended the second period on the power play after a Lincoln Griffin holding call at 18:31. Toledo entered the third period with 29 seconds left on the man advantage as they looked for the game-tying goal. The Walleye could not convert on the man advantage as the Cyclones returned to full strength but came inches away from a goal as the puck went off the post as the power play expired.

With 7:46 gone, a skirmish broke out in the Cincinnati zone that sent four players to the penalty boxes. Chris Martenet and Mitchell Heard picked up penalites for the Walleye, and Luc Brown and Graeme Brown were the offenders for Cincinnati. All four players received two-minute roughing minors.

The Walleye continued to search for the game-tying goal as the period wound down, bringing Billy Christopoulos to the bench with 1:50 to play to add an extra skater. Toledo took a couple shots before Mitchell Heard received a slashing minor with 31 seconds remaining. Christopoulos returned to the ice with the Walleye shorthanded, and the Cyclones came away with the 3-2 win to tie the series at one.

Cincinnati edged the Walleye in shots on goal, 31-30. The Cyclones had four power play opportunities but came up empty while Toledo converted on one of their two chances with the man advantage.

Sean Bonar recorded the win for the Cyclones with 28 saves on 30 shots for the visitors. Billy Christopoulos took the loss for the Walleye, saving 28-of-31 shots in 58:41 of ice time.

What’s Next:

The Walleye travel to Cincinnati on Monday, April 25, for the first road game of the Division Semifinals. Both teams will look to take the series advantage with the series currently tied, 1-1. Puck drop from Heritage Bank Center is set for 7:35 p.m.

Three Stars:

  1. Cincinnati – Justin Vaive (two goals)
  2. Toledo – Brandon Hawkins (two goals)
  3. Cincinnati – Jesse Schultz (two assists)