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Walleye fall to Beast in front of record crowd

Sunday, April 7th
Walleye fall to Beast in front of record crowd

TOLEDO, OhioJeff Lerg stopped 35 shots in his highly anticipated return on Saturday, but the Toledo Walleye were unable to keep pace with the Brampton Beast in a 6-3 decision before a Huntington Center-record crowd of 8,397.

In addition to setting a new single-game attendance mark, the Walleye (39-23-6-3) made Toledo hockey history by drawing 280,170 fans during their 36-game home slate. The Walleye sold out each of their last 16 home games and extended their own franchise record with 31 capacity crowds this season. 

Already locked in to second place in the Central Division standings, the Walleye know they will face third-ranked Fort Wayne in the first round of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club. The Komets won on home ice against top-seeded Cincinnati by a 5-3 count, meaning Kalamazoo will finish in fourth position regardless of its result at Tulsa.

Brampton (35-28-5-2) recorded the first nine shots of the contest, but were still fortunate to grab a 1-0 lead 5:25 into the opening period. Lerg was unable to control a carom off the end boards, allowing David Vallorani to race into the slot and bury a shot into the top left corner. 

David Pope potted his second goal in as many nights to even the score at 1-1. Zach Gallant had his wrist shot from the left circle fought off by Etienne Marcoux, but he picked up his first professional point when Pope followed up by lifting a backhanded effort into the top left corner at the 8:19 mark.

The Beast restored their one-goal edge with 13:30 gone in the first, but the Walleye responded with two goals in the latter stages of the frame. Greg Wolfe chipped the puck ahead to Gallant, who scored his first goal in a Toledo uniform on the power play with a wrist shot just inside the left post at 17:38. Bryan Moore then put the hosts in front when he surprised Jake Paterson by placing a sharp-angle attempt inside the left post with 9.5 seconds remaining.

Brampton replaced Paterson with Etienne Marcoux to begin the middle frame, and regained control in the offensive zone to seize a 4-3 lead. On an eventual 2-on-1, Jackson Leef’s shot from the right circle trickled between Lerg’s pads, before David Pacan got his stick on the loose puck in the crease at 2:25 for his 28th goal of the season. Moments later, Leef dragged his way past a Toledo defenseman at the left circle and tucked a shot inside the right post at the 4:22 mark.

The Walleye had numerous chances to restore parity during the third period, but the Beast pulled away with a pair of late insurance markers. Austin McEneny’s shot from the left point went through a screen with 5:26 to go, before Aaron Luchuk set up Leier in front for his second goal of the night 1:53 later as the Beast clinched their second postseason berth in franchise history. 

The Walleye finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Brampton converted on 1-of-2 opportunities. Paterson stopped 13-of-16 shots during the first 20 minutes, but did not factor in the decision after Marcoux stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief.

What’s Next:The Walleye close out their 10th regular season on Sunday with a road tilt at Brampton. Puck drop from the CAA Centre is set for 4 p.m.

Three Stars:1. Brampton – Boston Leier (two goals)2. Brampton – Daniel Leavens (four assists)3. Toledo – Zach Gallant (power play goal, two assists)

Fish Tales:Kaden Fulcher became the 20th Walleye player or coach to graduate to the NHL, turning away 9-of-11 shots over 27:13 of game action in relief of Jimmy Howard as Detroit fell 7-1 to Buffalo. • Pat Nagle made his first appearance for the Grand Rapids Griffins since Jan. 23, 2015 against Utica, stopping 20-of-25 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss at San Jose.• Bryan Moore set a Walleye record for most career penalty minutes with 246, surpassing Adam Keefe’s total of 243.  

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Her Hockey Day / Crossbody Bag Giveaway
Sunday, March 3rd
Her Hockey Day / Crossbody Bag Giveaway
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Iowa Heartlanders
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Rock the Rink Weekend / John Lethemon Bobblehead Giveaway
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Rock the Rink Weekend / Battle of the Badges
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Kalamazoo Wings
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