KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Blake Hillman scored his first career ECHL goal with 3:53 left in overtime as the Toledo Walleye earned a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Kalamazoo Wings on Tuesday at Wings Event Center.
On an eventual 2-on-1, Josh Kestner skated down to the left circle and flipped a saucer pass over the stick of a diving Zach Frye, which Hillman controlled at the right circle before wiring a wrist shot into the top right corner past Jake Hildebrand’s outstretched catching glove. The result gives the Walleye a 4-1-0-0 record as they wrap up a season-opening five-game road trip, while Kalamazoo sits close behind with a 3-1-1-0 mark.
In addition to scoring the game-tying power play goal with 6:49 remaining in regulation, Shane Berschbach also added an assist, while Justin Buzzeo and T.J. Hensick each tallied a pair of helpers. Pat Nagle turned away 32-of-35 shots to pick up his 63rd career regular season win with the Walleye, matching the franchise record held by Jeff Lerg.
The Walleye withstood a flurry of chances in the early stages, but eventually fell behind with 6:09 to go in the opening period. Former Toledo forward Dylan Sadowy drove his way to the right circle and placed a wrist shot inside the far post for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Kalamazoo doubled its lead with 44 seconds left in the frame. After Tyler Ganly’s stretch pass jumpstarted an odd-man rush in the Toledo end, Sadowy had his initial one-timer bounce off the left post only for Kyle Blaney to backhand the loose puck into an open net.
After killing off a Hensick hooking minor early in the second stanza, the Walleye erased their deficit with a pair of goals in a 69-second span. Brenden Kotyk snuck behind the Kalamazoo defense and took a centering pass from Buzzeo for a one-timer into the top right corner at the 3:43 mark
Toledo quickly evened the score on a delayed penalty at 4:52. Following a period of sustained possession in the offensive zone, Berschbach set up Brandon Anselmini at the left point for a sharp one-timer into the top left corner, prompting Kalamazoo head coach Nick Bootland to burn his timeout.
The Wings reclaimed the lead when Yannick Vellieux jammed home a power play goal 2:24 into the third period, but the Walleye restored parity with a power play marker of their own later in the frame. Berschbach’s rinkwide pass from the right circle was intended for Hensick at the back door, but the puck deflected off the stick of Ben Wilson and past Jake Hildebrand's right pad at 13:11 to force Toledo's first seven-minute 3-on-3 overtime session.
The Walleye finished 1-for-7 on the power play, while Kalamazoo scored on 1-of-5 opportunities. Hildebrand stopped 33-of-37 shots.
What’s Next:The reigning Western Conference champions return to the Huntington Center for Opening Weekend presented by NSG Group. The Walleye will host the Florida Everblades on Saturday at 7:15 p.m., before welcoming the Fort Wayne Komets on Sunday at 5:15 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – Blake Hillman (overtime goal)2. Kalamazoo – Dylan Sadowy (goal, assist)3. Toledo – Shane Berschbach (game-tying power play goal, assist)