TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye were unable to overcome a nightmare start, as the Cincinnati Cyclones used the strength of five first-period goals to seal a 5-2 decision on Saturday before a sold-out crowd of 8,203 at the Huntington Center.
The Cyclones (35-9-3-3) stunned the home faithful by scoring two goals on four shots within the opening five minutes of play. Ben Johnson was positioned behind the Toledo (29-13-4-3) defense to tap a loose puck underneath a seated Kaden Fulcher at 2:28, before setting up Pascal Aquin in front for a one-timer to double Cincinnati’s lead at the 4:44 mark.
Vasili Glotov made it 3-0 during the first half of a four-minute power play 8:06 into the first frame. Eric Knodel’s snapshot from the point was steered aside by Fulcher, but the rebound went straight toward Aquin, who fired a pass through the slot to Glotov at the right circle for a one-timer into a open cage.
Cincinnati added to its margin with 7:36 remaining in the same period. Aquin circled behind the net and centered the puck to Jesse Schultz in front for a shot inside the left post, prompting head coach Dan Watson to call timeout and substitute Fulcher in favor of Pat Nagle.
The Cyclones capitalized on their second power play opportunity, potting their fifth goal when Mitch Jones sent a wrist shot from the left point into the top left corner with 6:30 to go in the first.
Bryan Moore got the Walleye on the scoresheet with a power play marker of his own later in the frame. Tyler Speziaskated toward the right dot and found Moore in front for a simple one-timer with 2:36 to go in an otherwise forgettable opening period.
Toledo carried the play throughout the middle period, and eventually trimmed the deficit to 5-2 when Ryan Obuchowskiripped a slapshot past the blocker of Michael Houser at the 4:48 mark. Despite outshooting Cincinnati by an 8-0 count to begin the second stanza and 24-11 through the final 40 minutes, the Walleye could not inch any closer against the Western Conference-leading Cyclones.
Toledo finished 1-for-3 on the man advantage, while Cincinnati converted on 2-of-6 chances. Houser blocked 28-of-30 shots to collect the win, as Fulcher turned away 6-of-10 before Nagle stopped the final 12 shots he faced in relief.
What’s Next:The Walleye wrap up a stretch of three games in three nights on Sunday as they host the Kalamazoo Wings. Puck drop from the Huntington Center is set for 5:15 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Cincinnati – Ben Johnson (goal, assist)2. Cincinnati – Jesse Schultz (goal)3. Cincinnati – Pascal Aquin (two assists)