TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye collected a franchise-record 5,631 teddy bears that will be donated to local children’s charities, but couldn’t help their own cause on the ice in a 4-1 setback to the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday at a sold-out Huntington Center.
The Walleye (12-8-1-0) were outshot by a 7-0 margin to begin the game, but recovered to capture a 1-0 lead 15:29 into the opening frame. T.J. Hensick was denied twice at the right post by the outstretched pad of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, but Tyler Spezia pounced on a loose puck in the slot and chipped a shot into an open net to allow the capacity crowd of 8,509 to unleash a torrent of teddy bears onto the ice.
Cincinnati (15-6-2-0) regained control of the contest in the second period, and pulled even with 7:56 gone in that frame. Jesse Schultz took a stretch pass from Ben Johnson in the neutral zone and quickly split the defense before lifting a breakaway attempt into the top right corner for his 14th goal of the season.
The Cyclones then capitalized on the first of five consecutive Toledo penalties, as John Edwardh gave the visitors a 2-1 edge when he placed a wrist a shot from the left circle over Filip Larsson’s right shoulder at the 10:25 mark.
Cincinnati returned to the power play in the waning moments of the middle period, as Shane Berschbach was controversially slapped with consecutive minor penalties for slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct, respectively. After Cody Milan dropped a pass to Matthew Spencer at the left point, the latter set up Kurt Gosselin at the right circle for a one-timer that squeaked inside the near post to make to 3-1 with 12.2 seconds remaining in the frame.
Filip Larsson used one of his career-high 32 saves to prevent Schultz from guiding a breakaway attempt through the five-hole 1:19 into the final stanza, but the Cyclones tacked on a fourth goal at the 5:24 mark. Although his initial wrister from the right circle was blocked by Larsson, Justin Vaive skated into the crease and batted a rebound inside the left post to wrap up the scoring.
Cincinnati finished 2-for-6 on the man advantage, while Toledo was unable to convert on four power play chances. Luukkonen stopped 26-of-27 shots to claim the victory.
What’s Next:The Walleye conclude a stretch of four games in five days on Sunday with a road tilt against the Wheeling Nailers. Puck drop from WesBanco Arena is set for 4 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Cincinnati – Jesse Schultz (goal, assist)2. Cincinnati – Justin Vaive (goal, assist)3. Cincinnati – Kurt Gosselin (power play goal)