KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Toledo Walleye opened their preseason on a winning note, tallying three unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday at Wings Event Center.Kevin Tansey ended the night with a goal and an assist, while Hunter Smith, Greg Wolfe and Tyler Spezia each found the net for the first time in a Toledo uniform. Kaden Fulcher went the distance between the pipes for the Walleye, stopping 23-of-25 shots in a winning cause.
The Walleye needed little time to capture the lead, as Smith started the scoring on the power play 2:19 into the contest. Toledo’s top defensive pairing of Tansey and Brenden Kotyk set up the newly acquired 6-foot-7 winger to stake the visitors to a 1-0 advantage.
Kalamazoo moved ahead later in the opening frame with a pair of goals 68 seconds apart. Chad McDonald’s power play tally at the 10:46 mark evened the score, before Zach Diamantoni lit the lamp to give the Wings a 2-1 edge with 8:06 to play in the first.
Toledo managed to restore parity with just over five minutes remaining in the first. Wolfe took a feed from Hinckley, Ohio, native Jake Faiella and scored at the 14:56 mark to knot the score at 2-2 heading into the first intermission.
After managing five shots in the first 20 minutes of play, the Walleye carried the play throughout the second stanza, outshooting the Wings by a 17-4 margin. Tansey netted what proved to be the game-winning goal just 39 seconds into the middle frame to provide Toledo with a 3-2 edge.
The visitors’ fourth goal arrived when Spezia doubled Toledo’s advantage 5:27 into the final frame. The Bowling Green State University product accepted a pass from Kevin Lohan and beat Kalamazoo netminder Jake Hildebrand to make it a 4-2 cushion. Tansey completed his Gordie Howe hat trick when he dropped the gloves against Zach Saar with 5:23 remaining in regulation.
Toledo finished 1-for-7 on the man advantage while Kalamazoo converted on one of three opportunities. Wings’ starter Keegan Asmundson blocked 8-of-11 shots in defeat, before Hildebrand turned away 18-of-19 shots in relief.
What’s Next:The Walleye return to the Huntington Center on Saturday to wrap up their home-and-home preseason series against Kalamazoo. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Fish Tales:• The Detroit Red Wings’ opening night roster featured three Walleye alumni: defenseman Nick Jensen, and forwards Luke Glendening and Martin Frk. Additionally, goaltender Carter Hutton now plays for the Buffalo Sabres, while defenseman Jacob MacDonald and goaltender Petr Mrazek represent the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively.• The AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins feature three Toledo alumni on their active roster: defensemen Jake Chelios and Vili Saarijarvi, and forward Trevor Hamilton.• The ECHL on Thursday announced that Toledo will be one of four teams in the league to have instant replay available for all home games during the 2018-19 season.