TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye won their first Kelly Cup Finals game in franchise history on Wednesday in front of a Huntington Center-record crowd of 8,472, as they earned a 4-1 victory over the Newfoundland Growlers in Game 3 that trimmed the visitors’ series lead to 2-1.
Already Toledo’s franchise leader in postseason scoring, Shane Berschbach notched two goals and an assist to earn first-star honors, while Greg Wolfe scored what proved to be the game-winning goal before assisting on Berschbach’s final tally. Ryan Obuchowski contributed a pair of helpers, as Pat Nagle turned away 14-of-16 shots to improve his record to 13-8 during the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club.
The Walleye will welcome capacity crowds to the Huntington Center for Game 4 on Friday and Game 5 on Saturday before the series potentially returns to Newfoundland. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:35 p.m.
The Walleye applied tremendous pressure from the opening faceoff as they outshot Newfoundland by a 19-6 count during a goalless first period. A pair of early power play opportunities allowed the hosts to create a myriad of chances, most notably when Matt Register’s point shot hit the base of the right post and rolled through the crease behind Newfoundland goaltender Michael Garteig with just under three minutes left in the first frame.
Newfoundland struck first 4:01 into the middle period. Just after Dylan Sadowy finished serving his roughing minor, Derian Plouffe dropped a pass to Hudson Elyniuk at the edge of the left circle for a one-timer into the top right corner.
Zach Gallant eventually leveled the score for Toledo with 5:55 to go in the middle period. Tyler Spezia circled behind the Newfoundland net and lost his balance at the right point as he sent the puck across to Obuchowski, whose wrist shot was deflected inside the left post by Gallant for his sixth goal of the postseason.
The Walleye continued to throw pucks on net, and seized a 2-1 lead 1:23 later. Berschbach’s initial attempt from the high slot went about a foot wide of the left post, but Wolfe played the carom off the end boards near the left goal line and sent a sharp-angle shot into an open net.
Toledo doubled its advantage with a power play goal later in the frame, as Register’s slap pass from the right point reached Berschbach at the left dot for a sharp wrist shot into the top left corner with 1:24 to go.
With the teams skating 4-on-4, Berschbach potted his second goal of the contest when he batted Wolfe’s backhanded attempt out of mid-air before guiding a shot past the catching glove of Garteig with 8:28 remaining. Berschbach and Wolfe now share the team lead with nine goals and 19 points in 21 Kelly Cup Playoff games.
Toledo finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Newfoundland failed to score on a pair of opportunities. Garteig blocked 32-of-36 shots in a losing cause.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – Shane Berschbach (two goals, assist)2. Toledo – Greg Wolfe (goal, assist)3. Toledo – Zach Gallant (goal)