TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye were 26 seconds away from falling to the Fort Wayne Komets at the Huntington Center, but late-game heroics from TJ Hensick and Cole Fraser helped the Fish complete the 6-5 comeback Sunday evening.
Hensick found the back of the net with 26 seconds to go to tie the contest before Cole Fraser hit the game-winner with under a second remaining. The goals capped off a game that featured 11 goals, 75 shots, and 11 penalties between the two teams.
The Walleye and Komets played much of the first period in a stalemate. Both teams picked up a penalty in the first eight minutes, but each team’s penalty killers prevented the puck from finding the back of the net to keep the score even.
That changed nearly 13 minutes into the contest when Randy Gazzola, assisted by Mitchell Heard and Conlan Keenan, put the Walleye on the board with his sixth goal of the season.
The Walleye lead only lasted briefly as the Komets took advantage of a Chris Martenet hooking call at 16:31. Lynden McCallum netted the puck with help from Zach Pochiro and Connor Corcoran to even the score at 1-1 heading into the first intermission. Toledo held the 15-9 shot advantage in the first 20 minutes of play.
The Fish retook the lead late in the second period on Brett Boeing’s power play goal with 17:44 gone. Toledo went to the man advantage on a Dillon Hill holding penalty at 16:40, and Mitchell Heard and Brandon Hawkins dished the assists for Boeing’s 11th goal of the season. The Walleye took the 2-1 lead on the goal, maintaining the lead as the second period ended.
The contest became increasingly chippy near the end of the second period, setting the stage for a wild third period. Fort Wayne came out of the intermission and scored two goals in the first 45 seconds to take the 3-2 lead. Kellen Jones and Shawn Boudrias tallied the two goals for the Komets as Fort Wayne took their first lead of the contest.
Tensions finally boiled over at the 4:26 mark as Mitchell Heard and Chays Ruddy brawled near the Toledo net, each receiving fighting majors. Brandon Schultz responded 34 seconds later with an equal strength goal to tie the game at 3-3. TJ Hensick assisted Schultz on his fourth goal of the season. Hensick recorded his 25thassist with the helper.
Looking to take the lead, Butrus Ghafari got the puck to Brandon Hawkins, who scored with 6:39 gone to give the Fish the 4-3 advantage. Hawkins has eight goals this season in 15 games.
The scoring barrage continued in the second half of the frame with the Komets countering with two goals to regain the lead with just under five minutes to play. Shawn Szydlowski, assisted by Shawn Boudrias and Will Graber, found the back of the net first at the 12:40 mark before Lynden McCallum converted with the man advantage caused by Mitchell Heard’s slashing penalty to give the Komets the 5-4 lead. Matt Alvaro and Zach Pochiro assisted as Fort Wayne came away with the advantage with 4:54 to play in regulation.
Desperate for a goal to extend the contest into overtime, Toledo brought on a sixth skater as Max Milosek emptied the net with 1:03 left in the period. With 26 seconds remaining, TJ Hensick found the back of the net from the right circle to even the score at 5-5. The goal marked his 17th of the season. Randy Gazzola and Brett Boeing assisted as all three players secured multi-point nights.
Max Milosek re-entered the game following Hensick’s goal, and Toledo’s five skaters looked to complete the comeback. With less than a second remaining, Cole Fraser received a pass from Brett Boeing and found the back of the net to secure the victory for the Fish. The goal marked Fraser’s fourth of the season. Boeing completed a three-point night with the helper, and Conlan Keenan’s secondary assist was his second of the game.
The Walleye moved to 24-8-2 with the 6-5 victory, extending their win streak to four games.
Toledo tallied 45 shots on goal while facing 30 from the Komets. The Walleye went 1-for-5 with the man advantage while the Komets scored on two of their three opportunities.
Max Milosek made 25 saves while earning the win for the Walleye. Mario Culina was credited with the loss despite 39 saves for the Komets.
The Walleye return to the ice on Friday, Jan. 28, to face the Indy Fuel on the road. Puck drop from Indiana Farmers Coliseum is set for 7:00 p.m.
- Toledo – Cole Fraser (game-winning goal)
- Toledo – TJ Hensick (game-tying goal, assist)
- Toledo – Brandon Hawkins (goal, assist)