TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye and Reading Royals played the first two periods of Saturday night’s contest in a 0-0 stalemate, but the Royals used a four-goal third period to break away for the 4-1 win at the Huntington Center.
Toledo dominated the shooting game, taking 40 shots in the contest, but Reading took advantage of their opportunities to snap the Walleye’s five-game win streak. Brandon Schultz scored the lone Walleye goal in the third period while Kaden Fulcher made 21 saves for the Fish. The chippy contest set the stage for a rematch to conclude the season series between the ECHL’s first and second place teams tomorrow night.
The Walleye pummeled the Royals with 16 shots on goal in the opening frame while holding the Royals to nine despite going shorthanded three times. TJ Hensick entered the penalty box at 8:32 for holding the stick, and the Fish held Reading without a shot during the first penalty kill.
Gordi Myer and Chris Martenet each entered the penalty box in the middle of the period for tripping at 12:30 and cross-checking at 13:50, respectively. The Walleye fought back from the 5-on-3 disadvantage, returning to full strength after 3:20 on the penalty kill. The period ended in a 0-0 deadlock as both teams continued to search for their first goal.
The score remained knotted at zero, but tension rose quickly throughout the second period, culminating with two late fights. Some get-togethers occurred in the early minutes of the frame, with the first brawl of the period breaking out between Ian Parker and Garret Cockerill in front of the penalty boxes at the 16:43 mark. Both players received five-minute fighting majors for the altercation.
Less than two minutes later, Cole Fraser and Jackson Cressey exchanged punches following a Cressey boarding call. Both players were assessed five-minute fighting majors while Fraser received an additional roughing penalty. Mitchell Heard was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, sending the Royals to the power play for the remainder of the period. Toledo edged Reading in shots on goal, 11-9.
Reading broke the scoring drought 6:41 into the third period as Trevor Gooch found the back of the net shorthanded to give the Royals the 1-0 lead. Garrett McFadden and Frank DiChiara earned the assists.
Brandon Schultz responded 53 seconds later with the game-tying goal from Mitchell Heard and Ryan Lowney, his tenth goal of the season, bring the score to 1-1. Heard and Lowney have 15 and nine assists on the year, respectively.
The Royals scored three times in a four-minute span to secure the win late in the third period. Mason Millman, assisted by Jacob Pritchard and Kenny Hausinger, found the back of the net at 14:39, and Dominic Cormier, assisted by Pritchard and Brayden Low, added to Reading’s lead with another equal strength goal at 16:23.
Kaden Fulcher vacated the net at 17:21, and the Royals netted the puck on their second shot to put the game out of reach. Gooch netted his second goal of the game with the empty netter as Garret Cockerill and Millman assisted. Reading came away with the 4-1 win, snapping the Walleye’s five-game win streak.
Toledo won the shots battle, 41-25, while neither team scored on the power play. Reading held the man advantage five times while Toledo went to the power play three times during the contest. Both teams combined for 14 penalties.
Hayden Hawkey picked up the win for the Royals, making 39 saves on 40 shots in the victory. Kaden Fulcher’s three-game win streak in net came to an end with the loss. He stopped 21 of 24 shots, holding the Royals scoreless for the first 46 minutes of play.
The Walleye will look to split the season series with the Royals tomorrow evening in the final game of their weekend series. Puck drop from the Huntington Center is set for 5:15 p.m.