TOLEDO, Ohio – Bryan Moore and Greg Wolfe each netted a pair of goals as the Toledo Walleye battled back for a 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones on Wednesday at the Huntington Center, giving the hosts a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Central Division Finals.
Trevor Hamilton added an empty net goal in addition to an earlier assist, while Pat Nagle turned away 31-of-32 shots to collect third-star honors. The Walleye and Cyclones will meet for the final time this season inside the Huntington Center when they stage Game 4 on Friday at 7:35 p.m.
Cincinnati broke the scoreless tie with 5:28 left in an energetic opening frame. After holding the puck in the Toledo zone, Mike Marnell threw the puck from the left boards toward the point to Arvin Atwal, who escaped pressure from Shane Berschbach before setting up Brady Vail in the high slot for a sharp wrister into the top right corner.
The Walleye killed off a pair of minor penalties during the first half of the second period, and evened the score at the 10:36 mark. Hamilton’s wrist shot from the right point was blocked by Houser, but Moore moved to his backhand to steer the rebound into an open cage despite being hauled down in front by Anthony Florentino.
Toledo remained camped in the offensive zone and seized a 2-1 edge exactly four minutes later. Houser used his right toe to stop Kevin Tansey’s slapshot from the left point, but the rebound caromed off the end glass and hopped over the Cyclones’ net into the crease, allowing Wolfe to sneak behind the Cincinnati defense and swat the loose change into the goal before Houser could react.
The Walleye maintained their one-goal lead as the third period quickly ticked away, and eventually doubled their advantage on their lone power play chance of the night. Moore’s pass through the goal mouth was intended for Berschbach near the right goal line, but the puck ricocheted off the stick of Kurt Gosselin and slid narrowly inside the right post to stake the hosts a 3-1 lead with 6:10 left in the final frame.
Hamilton scored the first of two last-minute insurance tallies when he launched a puck out of his own zone and into an empty net with 25.1 seconds to play. With Houser back between the pipes, Toledo added a fifth goal when Tyler Spezia set up Wolfe in front for a one-timer into the top right corner with fewer than five seconds remaining.
The Walleye finished a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Houser stopped 33-of-37 shots in defeat.
1. Toledo – Greg Wolfe (two goals, assist)
2. Toledo – Bryan Moore (two goals)
3. Toledo – Pat Nagle (W, 31 saves)