TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye punched their ticket to the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Fort Wayne Komets on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd at the Huntington Center.
Entering play with their magic number at one, the Walleye (36-20-6-3) extended a franchise record by securing their fifth consecutive postseason appearance, marking the seventh time in 10 seasons that the Glass City will host playoff hockey. Toledo, who ranks second in the Central Division standings, finished 6-2-3-0 against third-place Fort Wayne (32-23-4-6) in the regular season series, with seven meetings decided by a single goal and five determined in overtime or a shootout.
The Walleye were outshot by a 6-0 margin to start the contest, but nearly drew first blood five and a half minutes in when Felix Chamberland centered a pass to Ryan Obuchowski at the left circle for a wrist shot that rang off the left post. Another chance arrived moments later, as Shane Berschbach’s wrister from the top of the left circle hit the inside of the left upright, only for the rebound to slide all the way to the right half-boards at the nine-minute mark.
Toledo continued to gain momentum and generate chances, but Fort Wayne broke the scoreless tie 8:30 into the second stanza when Mason Baptista was alone in front to redirect Brady Shaw’s backhanded feed from the right circle.
Obuchowski’s sixth goal of the season put the Walleye back on even terms with 3:34 remaining in the same period. Greg Wolfe gained the zone on the right wing and slid the puck toward Obuchowski in the high slot for a snapshot into the top right corner.
Though the Walleye could not pull ahead despite a 30-13 shot advantage over the final two periods of regulation, a 1-1 draw after 60 minutes was sufficient for the hosts to keep their playoff streak intact. The Komets carried the play throughout the extra frame, and captured the extra point when Anthony Petruzzelli moved from forehand to backhand before placing his breakway attempt into the top right corner with 2:23 left.
Fort Wayne finished 0-for-3 on the man advantage, while Toledo was unable to strike on its lone power play opportunity. Alex Dubeau blocked 37-of-38 shots for the victory, as Kaden Fulcher turned aside 29-of-31 to earn third-star honors.
What’s Next:The Walleye resume their five-game home stand on Friday, as they welcome the Kansas City Mavericks to the Huntington Center for a 7:15 p.m. puck drop.
Three Stars:1. Fort Wayne – Anthony Petruzzelli (overtime goal)2. Toledo – Ryan Obuchowski (goal)3. Toledo – Kaden Fulcher (OTL, 29 saves)
Fish Tales:• Sunday’s attendance of 7,804 marked Toledo’s franchise-record 12th consecutive capacity crowd and 27th sellout on the season, one shy of matching the club high set during the 2017-18 campaign.• With the secondary assist on Ryan Obuchowski’s goal, Felix Chamberland recorded his first professional point.• While five consecutive playoff berths marks the longest streak in Walleye history, the Toledo Storm made the postseason in each of their first eight seasons of existence (1992-99), winning back-to-back Riley Cups in 1993-94.