TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye surrendered four unanswered goals in the third period, while Wheeling Nailers goaltender Emil Larmi stopped all but one of the 48 shots he faced on Sunday to backstop the visitors to a 4-1 decision at the Huntington Center.
Larmi, who also turned away all 20 attempts on goal during the final frame, earned the victory and second-star honors exactly one week after conceding six goals on 34 shots in Toledo’s (20-11-3-1) 8-1 victory over Wheeling (17-16-4-0) at WesBanco Arena. Despite a strong start and season-high shot count, the Walleye are winless in four consecutive home games (0-3-1) for the first time since an identical stretch that lasted from Feb. 1-11, 2017.
The Walleye recorded the first six shots of the contest before Branden Troock tallied his second goal in as many nights 4:14 into the opening period. Steven Oleksy sent a pass from the right half-boards that grazed the stick of Blake Siebenaler at the edge of the right circle, enabling Troock to poke the loose puck between Larmi's pads.
The slim lead remained intact thorugh a goalless second period, though Brett Boeing was called for slashing with five ticks left in the frame. Toledo weathered a 5-on-3 spanning six seconds, but Wheeling knotted the score on the power play with 17:40 left in regulation. After Alec Butcher fanned on his one-timer from the left point, Siebenaler gathered the rebound on his backhand below the left goalline and banked a shot off the back of Pat Nagle’s left arm and in.
The Nailers then captured a 2-1 lead with 10:09 to go in the third. Renars Krastenbergs scored what prvoed to be the game-winning goal when he got behind the Toledo defense and moved to the backhand before sliding his breakaway attempt thorugh the five-hole.
Wheeling's Aaron Titcomb was whistled for holding with 4:24 left, but the Walleye power play was wiped out after Josh Kestner picked up a slashing call 49 seconds later. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Graham Knott dropped the puck between his legs to Brandon Hawkins, who wristed a shot form the left circle inside the far post.
Following another Wheeling penalty, the Walleye elected to pull Nagle to create a 6-on-4 advantage in skaters with fewer than two minute remaining, but Butcher added an empty-netter for the visitors with 41.3 seconds to play.
Wheeling finished 1-for-5 on the power play, while Toledo was unable to convert on four opportunities. Nagle blocked 26-of-29 shots in defeat.
What’s Next:The Walleye will hit the ice one more time prior to the 2020 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic, as they travel to the Hoosier State on Saturday, Jan. 18 to battle the Fort Wayne Komets. Puck drop from the Memorial Coliseum is set for 7:35 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Wheeling - Renars Krastenbergs (game-winning goal)2. Wheeling - Emil Larmi (W, 47 saves)3. Toledo - Branden Troock (goal)