TOLEDO, Ohio – Trevor Gorsuch was stellar between the pipes in his professional debut, finishing with 35 saves and first-star honors as the Toledo Walleye came from behind to snatch a 2-1 overtime win over the Cincinnati Cyclones on Sunday before a sold-out crowd of 8,079 at the Huntington Center.
Taking a feed from Tyler Spezia near the right half-boards, Shane Berschbach circled through the point and eventually worked his way to the left circle before centering a pass to Ben Danford, who snuck behind the Cincinnati (49-12-5-3) defense to redirect the puck into an open cage just 30 seconds into the extra frame. The result guarantees that the Walleye (38-21-6-3) will have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club, as they are locked in to second place in the Central Division standings.
Gorsuch, who recently completed his senior season at Western Michigan University, was signed earlier in the day after Pat Nagle was recalled by the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins while Jeff Lerg served as Toledo’s emergency backup for the second time in as many nights. Additionally, Kevin Tansey was signed by Grand Rapids to a professional tryout prior to Sunday's game, leaving the Walleye with five blueliners to wrap up their three-in-three weekend.
Following a goalless opening period, Jordan Topping nearly put the Walleye in front a period later, as he gained the zone and fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that hit the underside of Michael Houser’s catching glove and bounced off the right post near the nine-minute mark.
Cincinnati capitalized on an odd-man rush moments later to grab the lead. Near the right goal line, Jesse Schultz managed to set up Myles Powell in front for an effort that ricocheted off Brenden Kotyk’s right leg and in with 4:41 left in the middle stanza.
The Cyclones’ slim lead remained intact until Abbott Girduckis restored parity with 8:10 to go in regulation. After escaping pressure from Pascal Aquin near the right corner, Bryan Moore skated behind the net and centered the puck to Girduckis in front for a one-timer inside the left post. In all, the Walleye outshot Cincinnati by an 11-5 count during the third period before Danford scored his third goal of the season on the only shot of overtime.
Both teams finished 0-for-2 on the power play. Houser turned aside 28-of-30 shots for Cincinnati.
What’s Next:The top two teams in the Central Division will square off again on Wednesday, as the Walleye make the trip down I-75 to battle the Cyclones. Puck drop from U.S. Bank Arena is set for 7:35 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – Trevor Gorsuch (W, 35 saves)2. Toledo – Ben Danford (overtime goal)3. Toledo – Abbott Girduckis (game-tying goal)Fish Tales:The team's annual Mystery Puck Sale was held during Sunday's game and raised $2,660, with proceeds benefitting the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Fund.