Walleye crush Komets to take 2-0 series lead

TOLEDO, OhioPat Nagle turned away all 23 shots he faced and the Toledo Walleye tallied four power play goals in a 6-0 rout of the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday before a sold-out crowd of 7,723 at the Huntington Center, giving them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Central Division Semifinals.

Shane Berschbach, Tyler Spezia, Randy Gazzola and Zach Gallant each logged a power play goal and an assist, while Greg Wolfe scored his second even-strength goal in as many nights and later added an assist. Additionally, David Pope led all scorers with three points (0-3-3) as Dylan Sadowy contributed a pair of power play helpers. In all, the Walleye finished 4-for-7 on the man advantage en route to securing their first postseason shutout since eliminating Fort Wayne from the 2017 Central Division Finals with a 5-0 clean sheet on May 6.

Wolfe, who scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the series opener, broke the deadlock 5:26 into the contest when he received a centering pass from Spezia in the slot before placing a wrist shot into the top right corner.

Ben Danford doubled Toledo’s lead with 10 seconds left in the opening frame. After spinning away from Ryan Lowney in the right corner, Berschbach skated behind the Fort Wayne net and centered the puck to Danford for a one-timer past Zachary Fucale’s catching glove.

The Walleye took advantage of Fort Wayne’s lack of discipline, scoring on three consecutive power plays to extend their lead to 5-0 heading into the second intermission. Just 2:24 into the middle period, Sadowy’s diagonal pass from the right point reached Berschbach at the lower part of the left circle for a shot over a sprawling Fucale to give the hosts a three-goal cushion.

The hosts tacked on another power play goal one shot later. On a tic-tac-toe sequence, Wolfe sent the puck to Gallant at the right goal line, who in turn set up Spezia at the far post for a quick wrist shot off the inside of the left post and in at the 4:02 mark.

Toledo’s incredible special-teams display continued as Gazzola scored on the power play with 9.8 seconds left in the same frame. Stationed near the right half-wall, Pope found Gazzola at the point for a one-timer that deflected off Anthony Petruzzelli’s right skate and past the glove of Fucale.

A dust-up between Cody Cescon and Ben Storm in the waning moments resulted in Toledo’s seventh and final opportunity with an extra skater. After the hosts won the ensuing faceoff, Gazzola’s attempt from the point bounced off Fucale’s right pad, but Gallant skated in from the left circle to guide the rebound into an open net with 1:03 on the clock. 

Fort Wayne failed to convert on three power play chances. Fucale stopped 37-of-43 shots in a losing cause.

What’s Next:
Armed with a 2-0 series lead, the Walleye head to Fort Wayne for Game 3 of the Central Division Semifinals on Wednesday. Puck drop from the Memorial Coliseum is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. 

Three Stars:
1. Toledo – Pat Nagle (SO, 23 saves)
2. Toledo – Shane Berschbach (power play goal, assist)
3. Toledo – Greg Wolfe (goal, assist)
 

Pat Nagle stopped all 23 shots he faced as the Walleye earned a convincing 6-0 win over Fort Wayne. (Photo: Scott W. Grau)