CINCINNATI – Randy Gazzola and Mike Moffat were each credited with their first professional goals, but the Cincinnati Cyclones regained the lead early in the third period to claim a 3-2 victory over the Toledo Walleye on Wednesday at U.S. Bank Arena.
Shane Berschbach, who tied a franchise record held by Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Kyle Rogers by playing in his 319th career game in a Walleye (38-22-6-3) uniform, contributed a pair of assists for his 17th multi-point effort of the season. Fellow Western Michigan alumnus Trevor Gorsuch was saddled with the loss despite blocking 25-of-28 shots in his second pro start, while Michael Houser turned away 23-of-25 as Cincinnati (50-12-5-3) clinched the 2018-19 Brabham Cup as ECHL regular season champions.
The Walleye struck on the power play to grab the lead over their intrastate rivals. Six seconds into an Eric Knodel tripping minor, Berschbach set up Gazzola at the point for a one-timer that hit traffic in front before trickling past Houser’s right pad with 10:34 left in the opening period.
Cincinnati answered with two power play goals in a 1:14 span. Although Brenden Kotyk blocked Brady Vail’s slapshot with his right knee, the rebound came straight to Vasily Glotov at the lower part of the right circle for a shot into the top right corner at 17:45. Myles Powell then gave the hosts a 2-1 edge when he took a rinkwide pass from Jesse Schultz at the left circle and fired a one-timer into an open net at the 18:59 mark.
Cincinnati’s lead proved to be short-lived as Moffat evened the score 33 seconds later. While Abbott Girduckis applied pressure on Devante Stephens in the high slot, Moffat flipped a wrist shot from the point that changed direction and dipped inside the left post.
Both teams traded changes during a goalless second period, only for the Cyclones to jump back in front for good with 15:19 left in regulation. Alone in the slot, Alex Wideman sent a pass toward the right circle to Knodel, who buried a wrist shot over a sprawling Gorsuch. The Walleye looked to tie the score on back-to-back power play chances later in the frame, but could not complete their second straight comeback as the hosts held on to both points.
Toledo finished 1-for-4 on the man advantage, while Cincinnati scored on 2-of-5 opportunities.
What’s Next:The Walleye continue their stretch of four games in five nights with a road tilt against the Wheeling Nailers on Friday. Puck drop from WesBanco Arena is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Cincinnati – Eric Knodel (game-winning goal, assist)2. Cincinnati – Myles Powell (power play goal, assist)3. Cincinnati – Michael Houser (W, 23 saves)
Fish Tales:• Theo Calvas and Zach Gallant both made their professional debuts on Wednesday. • Selected by Detroit in the third round, 83rd overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Gallant joins the Walleye after posting 25 points (13-12-25) in 30 games with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. The 20-year-old also showed three points (2-1-3) in five games during the 2019 OHL Playoffs.• Calvis, 20, split the 2018-19 OHL campaign with the Sarnia Sting and North Bay Battalion, tallying 22 points (3-19-22) in 65 games. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Calvas recorded three points (1-2-3) in five games for the Battalion during the 2019 OHL Playoffs.• The Walleye finish 4-5 against Cincinnati in the regular season series.