INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The Toledo Walleye earned a split of their two-game regular-season series against the Kansas City Mavericks with a 4-2 victory on Saturday at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
One night removed from their first defeat of the 2019-20 campaign, the Walleye (3-1-0-0) came out firing to begin the contest and were rewarded with a power play goal 6:46 into the first frame. On a tic-tac-toe sequence, Abbott Girduckis backhanded the puck toward the left goalline to T.J. Hensick, who in turn centered a pass to Zack Phillips in front for a one-timer over a sprawling Nick Schneider. In all, the visitors outshot Kansas City (2-4-0-0) by a 12-0 count through the opening eight minutes of play.
Toledo doubled its advantage with another power play marker in the closing seconds of the same period. After former Walleye winger Darian Dziurzynski was assessed a major and a game misconduct for a high, open-ice hit on Josh Kestner with 19 seconds remaining, Brandon Anselmini wired a wrist shot from the right point through traffic and inside the right post with fewer than seven ticks left in the frame.
Kansas City answered with a 5-on-3 power play goal in the second stanza. Following back-to-back minor penalties to Justin Buzzeo and Brenden Kotyk, respectively, Rocco Carzo sent a pass from the right goalline across to Jordan Woods at the left circle for a hard wrister past a partially screened Pat Nagle at 6:47.
The Walleye restored their two-goal lead moments later courtesy of Girduckis’ third goal in as many games. Kotyk’s sharp wrist shot from the right point was fought off by Schneider, but Girduckis used his backhand to guide the rebound past Schneider’s right pad at the 10:03 mark.
Greg Betzold scored for Kansas City to make it a one-goal game with exactly six minutes remaining in the second period, but Toledo gained some much-needed breathing room during the final frame when Mark Auk took a drop pass from Hensick at the point and wristed a shot into the top left corner with 10:49 to play.
The Walleye finished 2-for-6 on the power play and 5-for-11 overall in their two-game visit to Kansas City, while the hosts converted on 1-of-5 opportunities. Nagle stopped 15-of-17 shots to improve to 3-0 on the young season, as Schneider blocked 25-of-29 in a losing cause.
What’s Next:The Walleye wrap up their season-opening five-game road trip on with a Tuesday morning tilt against the Kalamazoo Wings. Puck drop from Wings Event Center is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – Abbott Girduckis (goal, assist)2. Toledo – T.J. Hensick (two assists)3. Kansas City – Rocco Carzo (two assists)