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Moore records Gordie Howe hat trick as Walleye edge Wings

Saturday, March 16th
Moore records Gordie Howe hat trick as Walleye edge Wings

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye set a franchise record with their ninth consecutive sellout as they held off the Kalamazoo Wings by a 4-3 count on Friday before a crowd of 7,537 at the Huntington Center.

Bryan Moore garnered first-star accolades with a goal and an assist, and eventually completed his Gordie Howe hat trick with a fight exactly nine minutes into the final frame. Chris Crane showed a goal and a plus-two rating in his Toledo (34-18-5-3) debut, while Dylan Sadowy contributed a pair of helpers for his third multi-point game in six outings.

The Walleye hold a 7-0-2-1 record over Kalamazoo (31-26-2-2) in the season series, with seven games decided by a single goal. In all, Toledo is 13-1-2-1 in its last 17 regular season meetings against the Wings, dating back to the 2016-17 campaign.

Toledo needed just one shot to grab the lead in the game’s opening minute. Moore positioned himself in the slot and redirected Michael Moffat’s pass from the left half-boards at the 50-second mark for his 15th goal of the season.

The Wings answered on their first power play chance moments later. Six seconds after Matt Register was whistled for delay of game, Erik Kattelus had his wrister from the right point blocked by the left foot of Kevin Tansey, but the rebound ricocheted directly to Luke Sandler below the right circle for a sharp-angle try underneath Pat Nagle’s catching glove at 4:49.

Crane put the Walleye back in front with his first goal since being acquired at the deadline from Norfolk. After winning a face-off in the offensive zone, Crane was able to work his way in front and deflect Register’s wrist shot from the point at the 8:24 mark.

Brenden Kotyk doubled Toledo’s advantage with 4:15 gone in the second stanza. Sadowy gained possession at the left dot and circled behind the net before setting up Kotyk at the right point for a sharp one-timer past the blocker of Ivan Kulbakov.

Kalamazoo closed the deficit to 3-2 with 23.8 seconds left in the middle period, but the Walleye quickly restored their two-goal cushion by taking advantage of sloppy defensive play. Hunter Smith’s initial attempt in close was turned aside, but he gathered his own rebound and banked a wraparound attempt off Kulbakov’s right skate and in with 2.5 ticks remaining.

Toledo outshot Kalamazoo 14-5 during the third frame, but the visitors netted the lone goal of the period. Zach Diamantoni fired a shot through between the Nagle’s pads with 11 minutes remaining, but his momentum knocked Connor Schmidt into the Walleye goaltender, setting up a fracas that resulted in Moore and Tyler Ganly dropping the gloves. Tyler Spezia earned a penalty shot with 10:55 to go, but was denied when Kulbakov used his catching glove to protect a gaping five-hole.

Kalamazoo finished 1-for-4 on the power play while Toledo was unable to convert on a pair of opportunities. Nagle stopped 18-of-21 shots to improve to 19-12-2-1, as Kulbakov turned away 32-of-36 in a losing effort.

What’s Next:The Walleye conclude Pink Out the Rink Weekend on Saturday with a 7:15 p.m. puck drop against the Wheeling Nailers.

Three Stars:1. Toledo – Bryan Moore (goal, assist)2. Toledo – Hunter Smith (game-winning goal)3. Kalamazoo – Luke Sandler (two goals) 

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