ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland – Newfoundland Growlers goaltender Maksim Zhukov stopped all 27 shots he faced to backstop the defending Kelly Cup champions to a 2-0 win over the Toledo Walleye on Saturday at the Mile One Centre.
The Walleye (7-5-1-0) outshot the Growlers (9-5-0-0) by a 7-5 count during a scoreless opening period, but lost one defenseman as Mike Moffat was assessed a match penalty for an illegal check to the head before dropping the gloves with Newfoundland captain James Melindy at the 16:56 mark. However, the five-minute power play was temporarily negated 10 seconds later when Zach O’Brien was called for slashing on Toledo’s shorthanded breakaway attempt.
With just two seconds remaining in Moffat’s penalty, the Growlers broke the deadlock 1:54 into the middle stanza. Trey Bradley circled behind the Toledo net and banked the puck off the back of Pat Nagle for his first professional goal.
The Walleye had an excellent opportunity to level the score moments later as Brett Boeing spun away from 2019 ECHL All-Star Giorgio Estephan at the right corner and sent a pass across to Zach Phillips, who had a point-blank one-timer denied when Zhukov got across with his blocker at the 11:13 mark to keep the visitors off the board.
Although the Walleye couldn’t cash in on a power play to start the third period, they came close to tying the score with just over nine minutes left in regulation. After his one-timer from the right circle was blocked by Zhukov, Brenden Kotyk’s second whack at the rebound in the high slot rolled inches wide of the Newfoundland cage.
The Growers sealed the game with an insurance marker in the closing stages, as O’Brien guided his breakaway attempt between Nagle’s pads with 2:58 on the clock.
Newfoundland finished 1-for-6 on the man advantage, while the Walleye were unable to convert on three power play opportunities. Nagle turned away 26-of-28 shots to collect second-star honors.
What’s Next:The Walleye return to action on Friday with a road tilt against the Fort Wayne Komets. Puck drop from the Memorial Coliseum is scheduled for 8:05 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Newfoundland – Maksim Zhukov (SO, 27 saves)2. Toledo – Pat Nagle (L, 26 saves)3. Newfoundland – Michael Kapla (assist)