TOLEDO, Ohio – Behind Shane Berschbach’s three-point performance and a strong 38-save effort by Pat Nagle, the Toledo Walleye kicked off their three-in-three weekend with a 4-1 victory over the Kansas City Mavericks on Friday before a sold-out crowd of 7,569 at the Huntington Center.
Making his professional debut after four seasons at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Abbott Girduckis tallied a goal and an assist, while Bryan Moore and Tyler Spezia each contributed a pair of helpers. The Walleye (37-20-6-3), who have picked up points in five of their last six on home ice (4-1-1-0), are seven points ahead of third-place Fort Wayne in the Central Division standings.
The Walleye struck first on a power play goal with 2:13 to go in the opening frame. After Moore redirected Berschbach’s centering pass off the outside of the right post, the latter regained possession below the right goal line and tucked a shot inside the near post.
Toledo struck again on the man advantage to open up a 2-0 lead early in the middle period. Also playing in his first game as a pro, Randy Gazzola fired a wrist shot from the point that appeared to graze the stick of Dylan Sadowy in front before dipping inside the right post. The goal, initially credited to Moore, marks Sadowy’s team-best 23rd of the season.
Girduckis gave the Walleye a commanding 3-0 edge with 10:53 remaining in regulation. Berschbach retrieved a loose puck near the right corner and flipped a pass to Girduckis at the left dot for a wrist shot into the top left corner.
Kansas City (32-30-3-2) spoiled Nagle’s shutout bid with 6:23 left in the contest when Corey Durocher was in front to redirect Willie Raskob’s centering pass inside the left post.
Berschbach restored Toledo’s three-goal cushion with his second tally of the night and 20th of the campaign. On an eventual 2-on-1, Berschbach gained the zone on the right wing and fed the puck through the slot to Spezia, who in turn set up Berschbach at the back door to wrap up the scoring with 3:36 to play.
Toledo finished 2-for-5 on the power play, while Kansas City failed to light the lamp on three opportunities. Nick Schneider stopped 26-of-30 shots as the Mavericks dropped their seventh straight contest.
What’s Next:The Walleye return to action on Saturday as they welcome the Kalamazoo Wings to the Huntington Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – Shane Berschbach (two goals, assist)2. Toledo – Abbott Girduckis (goal, assist)3. Toledo – Pat Nagle (W, 38 saves)
Fish Tales:• Jake Chelios made his NHL debut in Detroit’s 4-0 win against New Jersey on Friday at Little Caesars Arena, becoming the 19th Walleye player or coach to graduate to the NHL.• Chelios is the fifth Toledo alumnus to skate for Detroit this season, joining Martin Frk, Luke Glendening, Nick Jensen and Brian Lashoff.•The Walleye have extended a franchise record with their 13th straight capacity crowd, and have matched their most sellouts in a single season with 28.