TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye earned a comeback victory against the Fort Wayne Komets Sunday evening at the Huntington Center, clawing back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game before earning the 3-2 win in overtime.
Randy Gazzola netted his third overtime game-winner with 2:29 gone in the extra period to send Walleye fans and furry friends home happy after the first Paws and Pucks event of the season. The victory marks the Fish’s 20th win of the season as Toledo improves to 20-7-2 through 29 games.
The Komets skated out to an early lead with a goal 1:50 into the game. Connor Jones found the back of the net with help from Nick Jermain and Shawn Boudrias to give Fort Wayne the 1-0 lead. The goal was the only score by either team in the first period.
Connor Walters picked up the only penalty of the period on a hooking call with 14:23 gone, sending Fort Wayne to the power play. The Walleye earned the successful penalty kill to stay within one score of the Komets as the period ended. The Walleye trailed in shots on goal, 12-6, in the opening frame.
The second period opened with a bang as Mitchell Heard and Chays Ruddy fought near the penalty boxes at the 1:07 mark, with Heard knocking Ruddy onto the ice. Both players received fighting majors while Heard also picked up two cross-checking minors. At the 3:28 mark, Fort Wayne’s Anthony Petruzelli scored on the power play to put the Komets up by two. Stephen Harper and Zach Pochiro collected the assists as the Komets’ lead grew.
Fort Wayne’s Shawn Szydlowski picked up a high-sticking double minor at 13:37 to put the Fish on the power play for four minutes. The Walleye could not find the back of the net with the man advantage, sending the Komets back to full strength with just over two minutes to go. The two teams played out the remainder of the period, and the Komets led, 2-0, heading into the final intermission despite the Fish outshooting Fort Wayne, 16-4, in the period.
The Walleye’s comeback bid started 6:25 into the third period when Brandon Schultz put the Fish on the board with an equal strength goal. The goal, assisted by Conlan Keenan and Ryan Lowney, was Schultz’s second of the season, both coming this weekend. Then, at 11:56, Kellen Jones went to the penalty box for slashing, setting up a Brett Boeing power play goal at 12:09 to tie the game. Brandon Hawkins and Randy Gazzola were credited with the assists as the Fish pulled even with the Komets for the first time since 1:50 into the first period. Regulation ended with the Walleye and Komets tied, 2-2, sending the game to overtime.
The Komets threatened early in the three-on-three overtime period, but it was none other than Randy Gazzola who put an end to the sudden death period with the game-winner for the Walleye. The goal came at the 2:29 mark, with Mitchell Heard and Brett Boeing assisting as the Walleye earned the 3-2 win. Gazzola now has three game-winning goals in overtime this season. The first two came on Nov. 26 against the Indy Fuel and Dec. 19 at Greenville.
Toledo took 31 shots to Fort Wayne’s 21, including a 24-8 advantage over the second and third periods. Each team scored a power play goal, with Fort Wayne earning three opportunities to Toledo’s two.
Max Milosek earned his first victory in a Walleye uniform, making 19 saves on 21 shots in his second contest in two nights for Toledo. Liam Hughes was credited with the loss for the Komets. He made 28 saves on 31 shots in 62:29 on the ice.
The Walleye return to the ice Friday night when they travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to take on the Wings. Puck drop from Wings Event Center is set for 7 p.m.
- Toledo – Randy Gazzola (game-winning goal, assist)
- Toledo – Brett Boeing (power play goal, assist)
- Toledo – Max Milosek (W, 19 saves)