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Walleye set season high with fifth consecutive victory

Saturday, February 1st
Walleye set season high with fifth consecutive victory

TOLEDO, Ohio - T.J. Hensick spurred the Toledo Walleye to their season-high fifth consecutive victory, scoring two goals and adding a pair of assists in a 6-3 win over the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday before a sold-out crowd of 8,002 at the Huntington Center.

Kevin Spinozzi contributed a goal and an assist while Abbott Girduckis notched a trio of helpers as the Walleye (25-12-3-1) improved to 4-0 against Kalamazoo (16-21-4-1) in the regular-season series. Meanwhile, Billy Christopoulos shows a 15-2-2 record in his rookie campaign after turning away 28-of-31 shots in a winning cause, including a dazzling glove save during a penalty kill late in the second period. 

Alex Kromm broke the scoreless tie for Toledo 9:12 into the opening stanza. After Walleye newcomer Jimmy Lodge had his effort from the lower part of the left circle pushed aside by Jake Kielly, Kromm got back on his skates near ther left goalline and slid the rebound underneath the Kalamazoo netminder’s right pad.

The Walleye eventually doubled their lead later in the frame courtesy of Hensick's first goal of the night. Spinozzi wristed a clearing attempt out of his own end toward Kalamazoo’s right corner, before Hensick negated a potential icing when he won the race to the puck and used the carom off the end boards to set up a quick shot past the blocker of Kielly at the 16:26 mark.

Kalamazoo sliced Toledo’s advantage to 2-1 when Matheson Iacopelli lifted a wrist shot into the top right corner 10:05 into the second stanza, but Spinozzi needed all of 14 seconds to restore the hosts' two-goal margin. Hensick chased down Girduckis’ pass at the left circle and dropped the puck to Spinozzi, who unloaded a one-timer from the left point inside the near post.

Kalamazoo scored on the power play to get back within a goal, as Zach Frye's one-timer from the right point went past a screen and sailed inside the left post 1:06 into the third period. However, Hensick answered with a power play goal of his own at the 6:10 mark to make it a 4-2 contest. Josh Winquist gained the Kalamazoo zone up the middle and found Hensick at the right circle for a slapshot past Kielly’s catching glove. 

Kalamazoo made it a one-goal game when a backhanded effort from Austin Farley rolled underneath Christopoulos and inched over the goalline with 6:45 remaining in regulation, and had a golden opportunity to even the score after Winquist was assessed a double-minor for attempted spearing with 4:39 on the clock. However, Josh Kestner got behind the Wings' defense for a shorthanded breakway attempt that resulted in a penalty shot, which he slid along the ice and between Kielly's pads for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season. 

As Christopoulos stood tall in net to keep the Walleye lead at two, Shane Berschbach wrapped up the scoring on an empty-netter with 2:18 left in the contest. It marks the 110th career goal Berschbach has tallied in a Toledo uniform, leaving him one shy of the franchise record held by Evan Rankin.

In all, Toledo finished 1-for-5 on the power play, while Kalamazoo converted on 1-of-7 opprtunities. Kielly stopped 29-of-34 shots in defeat.

What’s Next:The Walleye look to extend their season-best five-game winning streak on Saturday with a road tilt against the Indy Fuel. Puck drop from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

Three Stars:1. Toledo - T.J. Hensick (two goals, two assists)2. Toledo - Kevin Spinozzi (goal, assist)3. Toledo - Abbott Girduckis (three assists)

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