TOLEDO, Ohio – The Walleye entered Saturday’s contest having won each of their previous six games within the friendly confines of the Huntington Center, but the Idaho Steelheads scored three unanswered goals in a 3:29 second-period span en route to a 4-2 decision before a capacity crowd of 8,111.
Filip Larsson turned away 33-of-36 shots for the Walleye (28-14-4-1), but was saddled with his first loss in a Toledo uniform since making 32 saves on Dec. 7, 2019 against Cincinnati. The result also marked Idaho’s first-ever victory in the Glass City in its third attempt.
The Walleye drew first blood 6:36 into the opening period. Nolan Gluchowski’s slapshot from the right point deflected off the stick of Abbott Girdukcis at the hash marks, sending the puck past the catching glove of Bowling Green State University alumnus Tomas Sholl and inside the right post for his 13th goal of the campaign.
Idaho (28-16-3-4) eventually turned the tables on the hosts, scoring three unanswered goals in quick succession prior to the halfway mark the middle frame. Will Merchant took a pass from Max Coatta at the top of the left circle and chipped a shot past a screen and into the top right corner at 5:27.
The visitors used a stroke of good fortune to capture a 2-1 lead just 1:19 later. Brett Supinski had his stick checked by Gluchowski at the left circle, but the puck catapulted toward the slot to Zack Andrusiak, who chopped the puck out of mid-air and inside the right post.
Jeff King then netted what proved to be the game-winning goal for the Steelheads at the 8:56 mark. Just before side-stepping a check from Mike Moffat at the left wall, Marc-Olivier Roy sent the puck to King at the left point before the latter eased his way into the left circle and lifted a shot into the top right corner.
The crowd of 8,111 came to life courtesy of Jimmy Lodge’s fith goal of the campaign with 17:42 gone in the same frame. Despite getting pressured from behind at the lower part of the left circle, Gregor MacLeod still managed to slide the puck through the goal mouth to Lodge for a one-timer over a sprawling Sholl.
The Walleye seemed destined to restore parity, but were denied twice by the frame of the goal in the closing stages. Marcus Vela unloaded a slapshot from the right point that hit the inside of the near post and whizzed harmlessly behind Sholl with 6:48 remaining in regulation. Brenden Kotyk then fired a one-timer from the left point that hit the outside of the left post with fewer than two minutes to play in the third.
With Larsson on the bench for the extra skater, Toledo opted to burn its timeout following an Idaho icing with 1:01 left in regulation. However, A.J. White gobbled up a loose puck in neutral ice and guided his shot into the vacated net with 30.9 seconds on the clock.
Toledo finished a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, but was unable to capitalize on three power play opportunities. Sholl blocked 28-of-30 shots in a winning cause.
What’s Next:The Walleye will remain at the Huntington Center on Sunday as they conclude another stretch of three games in three days with a rematch against Idaho. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Idaho – Jeff King (game-winning goal)2. Idaho – Zack Andrusiak (goal)3. Toledo – Abbott Girduckis (goal)