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Four-goal second period powers Walleye past Komets

Saturday, February 22nd
Four-goal second period powers Walleye past Komets

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Toledo Walleye tallied four second-period goals on Friday, while Billy Christopoulos recorded a career-high 45 saves in a 5-1 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets at the Memorial Coliseum.

Josh Kestner bookended the scoring to earn his career-best 23rd and 24th goals of the season, while Gregor MacLeod added a goal, two assists and a team-high plus-four rating. Kyle Bonis and T.J. Hensick each posted a goal and an assist to go with their plus-three performances as Toledo (30-15-4-1) improved to 8-0 against Fort Wayne (25-21-6-2) in the regular-season series. During that stretch, the Walleye have won five times at the Memorial Coliseum, outscoring the Komets by a 26-11 margin.

The Walleye were limited to four shots on goal during a scoreless opening period, but opened the floodgates by scoring four times during the second stanza. Already owning at least a share of the team lead in goals, assists and points, Kestner gave the visitors a 1-0 edge 5:05 into the middle frame. Although Josh Winquist was on his stomach at the left circle, he managed to poke the puck toward the slot to Shane Berschbach for a sharp one-timer that missed to Dylan Ferguson’s glove side, but the puck quickly caromed to Kestner at the right circle for a slapshot that found the net before the Fort Wayne goaltender had a chance to get across. 

Toledo went on to score twice in a 41-second span to open up a commanding 3-0 lead later in the same period. The visitors took advantage of some sloppy play in the Komets' zone, as Bonis gained possession near the right corner and centered the puck to MacLeod, who backhanded his second effort past the left pad of Ferguson at the 14:08 mark.

Bonis put his name in the goal column just one shot later. After Hensick whiffed on his intital effort from the right circle, he circled behind the Fort Wayne net and regained possession before centering a pass to Bonis at the hash marks for a one-timer that got a big piece of Ferguson’s let arm en route to the back of the net. 

Despite facing 22 shots during the second period, the Walleye headed into the intermission with a 4-0 advantage. MacLeod used his backhand to hoist a long clearing attempt toward the Fort Wayne zone, which Hensick chased down at the right circle before lifting a breakway attempt onto the top left corner at the 18:42 mark. 

The Komets spoiled Christopoulos’ shutout bid with a power play goal 11:19 into the final frame. On Fort Wyane's 41st shot on target, Max Gottlieb sent a wrist shot from the point that sailed past a congregation in the slot and into the top right corner.

The Walleye went on to restore their four-goal cushion with 2:02 left in the contest. Troy Loggins sent a lead pass from above the left circle that reached Kestner at the right dot for a sharp wrister past a sliding Cole Kehler, who had entered the game in relief of Ferugson to begin the third period.

Fort Wayne finished 1-for-2 on the man advantage, while Toledo was unable to score on a pair of power play opportunities. Ferguson turned away 14-of-18 shots in a losing effort, before Kehler stopped 9-of-10 over the final 20 minutes. 

What’s Next:The Walleye conclude a stretch of three road games in as many days when they travel to the Queen City on Sunday to battle the Cincinnati Cyclones. Puck drop from Heritage Bank Center is at 7:35 p.m.

Three Stars:1. Toledo - Josh Kestner (two goals)2. Toledo - Billy Christopoulos (W, 45 saves)3. Toledo - Gregor MacLeod (goal, two assists) 

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