TOLEDO, Ohio – Trevor Gorsuch earned first-star honors with a 42-save performance in his return to the Toledo Walleye lineup, while Mike Moffat scored the lone goal of the shootout to guide the hosts to a 3-2 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets on Sunday before a capacity crowd of 7,498 at the Huntington Center.
Although the Walleye (24-12-3-1) and Komets (20-15-5-2) combined for 16 shots on goal during the three-on-three overtime period, the highlight of the extra session arrived when Shane Berschbach dropped the gloves with 3:09 to play. While Marcus Vela and Jason Binkley wrestled in front of the Fort Wayne net, Berschbach horse-collared Mason Bergh to the ice before the pair came to grips with each other in the right corner.
After Troy Loggins and Shawn Szydlowski came up empty in the first round of the skills competition, Moffat made no mistake for the Walleye during the top of the second inning. He didn’t get all of his breakaway attempt in close, but netted what proved to be the deciding goal when his shot creeped between Cole Kehler’s blocker and arm before bouncing into the back of the net. The result gives Toledo three one-goal wins in as many nights, four consecutive wins overall, and seven straight victories against Fort Wayne to begin the regular-season series.
The Walleye were unable to cash in on three power play chances during a goalless opening period – including a 5-on-3 lasting 29 seconds – but scored the game’s first goal nearly six minutes into the middle frame. Josh Kestner played a pass from Loggins off the left half-wall and skated down to the left circle, where he sent a rinkwide pass through the slot to Josh Winquist for a one-timer past a sprawling Kehler.
Fort Wayne pulled even with a power play goal moments later. Brett McKenzie couldn’t jam the puck through Gorsuch's five-hole at the right side of the net, but the rebound hopped to Alan Lyszczarczyk in front for a shot into the top left corner at the 16:49 mark.
The Walleye eventually reclaimed their one-goal advantage with 13:44 remaining in regulation. Mike Moffat took a feed from Berschbach on his backhand at the right circle and sent a no-look pass toward the slot to Kestner, who wristed a shot past the right arm of Kehler for his team-leading 21st goal of the campaign.
The Komets needed all of 12 seconds to knot the score at two apiece. Fresh off his hat trick one night ago, Anthony Petruzzelli got to his own rebound and poked his second effort past the glove of Gorsuch. Blake Hillman unloaded a shot form the left circle that rang off the crossbar during the final minute of the third period, but the Walleye needed to go beyond 60 minutes for the fourth time in their last seven outings.
Gorsuch picked up his first win in a Toledo uniform after finishing 3-1 with a 1.75 goals-against average and a 0.945 save percentage in four starts for the club at the tail end of the 2018-19 regular season, while Kehler turned away 45-of-47 shots for the Komets during regulation and overtime.Fort Wayne finished 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Walleye couldn't convert on five opportunities. In all, the two sides totaled 18 infractions and 50 penalty minutes.
What’s Next:The Walleye return to the Huntington Center on Friday, Jan. 31 as they wrap up a four-game homestand against the Kalamazoo Wings. Game time is set for 7:15 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – Trevor Gorsuch (W, 42 saves)2. Toledo – Josh Kestner (goal, assist)3. Toledo – Mike Moffat (shootout goal, assist)