TOLEDO, Ohio – Kevin Spinozzi notched his first goal in a Toledo Walleye uniform, before Kyle Bonis scored what proved to be the game-winner as the home side held on to edge the Wheeling Nailers 2-1 on Friday in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,226 at the Huntington Center.
Shortly after Wheeling (13-12-4-0) forward Christopher Brown sliced Toledo’s (16-9-3-0) lead to 2-1 with 12:05 left in regulation, back-to-back penalties to Josh Winquist and Brandon Anselmini handed the Nailers a controversial 5-on-3 lasting 1:27. The Walleye returned to full strength with just under five minutes to go in the third, but returned to the penalty kill when referee Steven Sailor assessed a slashing minor to Josh Kestner with 1:33 on the clock. The visitors burned their timeout and eventually pulled Jordan Ruby to create a 6-on-4 advantage in skaters, but were repeatedly foiled by a tenacious defensive corps.
Charle-Edouard D’Astous and Brendan Hawkins dropped the gloves with 5:38 left in a goalless opening period, before Spinozzi broke the deadlock against his former club 9:12 into the middle stanza. Although Shane Berschbach’s sharp one-timer from the left dot was pushed aside by the left pad of Ruby, Spinozzi was positioned at the right circle to lift the rebound inside the near post in his home debut.
Bonis was credited with the second Walleye goal with 3:03 gone in the third period. Kestner gained the Wheeling zone and chipped the puck toward the left corner, which Bonis retrieved before throwing a shot on goal that deflected off the stick of Aaron Titcomb and found a gap between Ruby and the left post.
The Nailers cut their deficit in half moments later. After D’Astous and Cameron Heath went crashing into the Toledo net after the latter’s breakway attempt was blocked by Billy Christopoulos, Brown followed up the play and backhanded the rebound at the left circle through the mass of humanity at the 7:55 mark.
In all, Wheeling failed to score on four trips to the man advantage, while the Walleye did not have a single power play opportunity. Christopoulos stopped 29-of-30 shots to garner first-star accolades, as Ruby was saddled with the loss after turning away 32-of-34.
What’s Next:The Walleye return to the Huntington Center on Sunday for a 7:15 p.m. puck drop against the Cincinnati Cyclones.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – Billy Christopoulos (W, 29 saves)2. Toledo – Kyle Bonis (game-winning goal)3. Toledo – Kevin Spinozzi (goal)