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Walleye score early and often to down Fort Wayne, 7-2

Thursday, January 6th
Walleye score early and often to down Fort Wayne, 7-2

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Keeghan Howdeshell scored eight seconds into Wednesday night’s contest at Fort Wayne, and the Toledo Walleye never looked back as the Fish earned a 7-2 victory over the Komets behind Brett Boeing’s hat trick.

The contest consisted of multiple record-tying performances as Howdeshell tied a Walleye record for the fastest goal to start a period with the opening goal and Brandon Hawkins tied the Toledo record for most assists in a game with five. The Fish move to 18-6-2 on the season, collecting their first victory of 2022.

The Walleye tied a franchise record for the fastest goal to start a period as Keeghan Howdeshell netted the puck off a Fort Wayne turnover just eight seconds after puck drop. Brandon Hawkins earned the assist as the Walleye took the early 1-0 lead.

Each team picked up a penalty during the opening frame. Butrus Ghafari entered the penalty box for hooking at 3:09, and Fort Wayne’s Chays Ruddy was called for slashing with 10:50 gone. At the 12:21 mark, Fort Wayne netted a short handed goal to tie the contest at one goal each. Blake Siebenaler and Anthony Petruzzelli got the puck to Matt Alvaro for the goal.

Toledo and Fort Wayne were tied for less than two minutes before Brett Boeing score his fifth goal of the season off an assist from Cole Fraser, giving the Fish a 2-1 lead at the 14:05 mark. The Walleye received another scoring opportunity as time wound down in the first period, and Randy Gazzola converted with three seconds remaining to extend the lead to 3-1. The goal was Gazzola’s fourth of the season, and Brandon Hawkins and Keeghan Howdeshell each picked up a second point in the period on the assists. Toledo and Fort Wayne each took ten shots in the first period.

The Fish scored another three goals in the second period while holding the Komets scoreless. The first goal came from Conlan Keenan with 6:22 gone in the frame with helpers from Keeghan Howdeshell and Brandon Hawkins. Hawkins assisted on all three Walleye goals in the second period, ultimately tying the Walleye record for assists in a game with five. Another six minutes went by before the Walleye scored again, this time at the hands of Cole Fraser. Fraser’s equal strength goal was his third of the year. Conlan Keenan and Hawkins assisted.

The Fish and Komets combined for four penalties in the middle period, the last one proving consequential for Fort Wayne as Dillon Hill’s hooking minor led to Brett Boeing’s second goal of the season at 14:59. Brandon Hawkins and Randy Gazzola earned the assists for the Fish, sending the Walleye into the third period with the 6-1 lead.

The third period saw no scoring until the final four minutes of regulation when Brett Boeing earned a hat trick with his third goal of the game. Boeing, who was assisted by TJ Hensick, now has seven goals this season. The Komets scored just over a minute later, with Nick Jermain and Matt Alvaro assisting Anthony Petruzzelli on the second Fort Wayne goal of the night. The Walleye ultimately won the contest, 7-2, to extend their unbeaten in regulation streak to six games.

Fort Wayne edged Toledo in shots on goal, 43-35, thanks to a 21-shot third period. The Fish had three power play opportunities, converting once while also giving up a short handed goal. Fort Wayne did not score on either of their two power play chances.

Reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Month Billy Christopoulos earned the win in net for the Walleye, making a season-high 41 saves on 43 shots. He is unbeaten in regulation in his last 12 games, holding an ECHL-leading 12 wins this season for a 12-2-2 record. Bailey Brkin was credited with the loss for the Komets. He made 15 saves in 32:24 before being replaced by Tommy Proudlock, who made 13 saves in 27:36.

What’s Next:

The Walleye continue their three-game road trip Friday when they travel to Kalamazoo to take on the Wings. Puck drop from the Wings Event Center is set for 7 p.m.

Three Stars:

  1. Toledo – Brett Boeing (power play goal, two equal strength goals)
  2. Toledo – Keeghan Howdeshell (goal, two assists)
  3. Toledo – Brandon Hawkins (five assists)

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