TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye reeled off four unanswered goals in the third period en route to a convincing 6-2 victory over the Indy Fuel on Friday before a sold-out crowd of 7,442 at the Huntington Center.
The Walleye (14-8-2-0), who scored six or more goals in a single game for the fifth time this season, used six different goal scorers to demolish Indy (11-13-0-0) one night after rallying to salvage a point against their Central Division rivals. Brenden Kotyk recorded a goal and an assist and led the team with a plus-four rating, while Charle-Edouard D’Astous and Josh Kestner each dished out a pair of helpers. On the defensive end, Billy Christopoulos stopped 30-of-32 shots to improve to 5-0-1 in six career ECHL appearances.
The Walleye were unable to profit from back-to-back minor penalties to Sam Kurker, but eventually broke the deadlock on another power play with 1:04 left in the opening period. Although Kestner’s one-timer from the top of the left circle was turned aside by Gordon Defiel, Troy Loggins was in front of the crease to slam the rebound into an open net.
Toledo was prevented from doubling its lead on a two-man advantage lasting 54 seconds, before having its 5-on-4 power play negated when Abbott Girduckis was whistled for goaltender interference 11:30 into the second stanza. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Mark Auk intercepted Jake Ryczek’s pass at center ice before gaining the Indy zone and unloading a wrist shot inside the right post at the 12:10 mark.
The Fuel got on the scoresheet exactly two minutes later. After a Justin Buzzeo clearing attempt up the middle knocked the stick out of Bobby MacIntyre’s hands, Spencer Watson retrieved the loose puck near the high slot and placed a wrist shot into the top right corner.
Still ahead by a 2-1 count early in the third period, the Walleye extended their lead with a pair of goals 60 seconds apart. On a shorthanded 2-on-1, Brett Boeing used Kestner as a decoy as he slid his effort from the left circle through Defiel’s five-hole with 16:18 left in the frame.
Toledo then opened up a three-goal cushion one shot later. After Josh Winquist gained the line and skated toward the left circle, he centered the puck to T.J. Hensick in the high slot for a sharp wrister inside the right post.
The night went from bad to worse for Indy as the hosts added two more insurance goals prior to the halfway mark of the final period. Kestner won a battle for the puck behind the Indy net, and promptly centered the puck to Buzzeo in front for a one-timer into the top left corner with 11:45 left in regulation.
Kotyk posted Toledo's sixth and final goal with 10:32 remaining in the contest. Shortly after Marcus Vela’s breakaway attempt was fought off by Defiel, Alex Kromm and Shane Berschbach combined to set up Kotyk at the right point for a one-timer into the top right corner.
Watson added a late consolation for the Fuel, as he scored his second goal of the night on a power play to cut the deficit to 6-2 with 6:31 remaining.
Toledo finished 1-for-5 on the power play, while Indy succeeded on 1-of-7 opportunities. Defiel started brightly between the pipes, but was tagged with the loss after stopping 32-of-38 shots.
What’s Next:The Walleye will conclude a three-games-in-three-days stretch on Saturday as they travel down I-75 to the Heritage Bank Center for a 7:35 p.m. puck drop against the Cincinnati Cyclones. In total, Toledo will have played 10 games in 16 days following Saturday’s contest.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – Brett Boeing (game-winning goal)2. Toledo – Brenden Kotyk (goal, assist)3. Toledo – Josh Kestner (two assists)