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Christopoulos’ 36-save performance leads Walleye to 3-1 victory over Steelheads

Saturday, March 12th
Christopoulos’ 36-save performance leads Walleye to 3-1 victory over Steelheads

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye earned a 3-1 victory over the Idaho Steelheads on Friday night at the Huntington Center behind two third period goals and a nearly perfect performance from Billy Christopoulos.

Randy Gazzola found the back of the net in the second period, and Brandon Hawkins and Gordi Myer added tallies in the third to lead the Walleye offensively in the chippy contest. Christopoulos collected 36 saves, including a diving stop late in the third period as Toledo moved to 36-14-1-2 on the season.

The Walleye and Steelheads opened the game with a scoreless first period as Idaho outshot Toledo, 12-11. Each team went on the power play once in the first 20 minutes as Keeghan Howdeshell picked up a tripping call with 9:32 gone and Mason Mitchell was called for holding at 15:01. Neither team converted with the man advantage, and the contest entered the second period with no score.

The Fish got on the board first with 5:45 gone in the second frame to take the 1-0 lead. Brandon Hawkins fed Randy Gazzola in the right circle, who found an empty Idaho net after Peter Thome looked to make a diving stop and left the right side vacant. TJ Hensick collected the secondary assist as Gazzola notched his tenth goal of the season.

The Steelheads responded quickly on a Will Cullen goal from the right circle at the 7:32 mark. Michael Prapavessis and Colby McAuley assisted as the Walleye and Steelheads once again found themselves in a tie.

Increasingly chippy play in the middle frame culminated in a fight between Mitchell Heard and Kyle Marino with 31 seconds left in the period, sending both players to the penalty box for five minutes. Evan Wardley joined Marino with 18 seconds to play for delay of game, putting the Walleye on the power play for the second time. 

The man advantage continued into the third period, and Brandon Hawkins converted at the 1:27 mark to help the Walleye regain the lead. The power play goal marked Hawkins’ 18th tally of the season. TJ Hensick and Randy Gazzola recorded the assists.

Just under five minutes later, Gordi Myer found the back of the net to put the Walleye up by two. Matt Berry stole the puck from Idaho, and after a couple passes between Berry and Mitchell Heard, Myer received the puck and lit the lamp for the fourth time this season. Berry earned the primary assist while Heard collected the secondary helper.

Idaho looked to close the gap late, but the Steelheads could not find an answer for Billy Christopoulos, who made a diving save with just over four minutes left to deny the visitors a goal. The Steelheads emptied their net with 2:30 to go and soon found themselves on a 6-on-4 advantage after Mitchell Heard was called for cross checking with 2:04 remaining. Despite the disadvantage, Toledo held Idaho without a shot for the final two minutes of regulation to come away with the 3-1 victory.

The Steelheads edged the Walleye in shots, 37-35, as well as power play opportunities, 3-2. The Walleye scored once on the man advantage while the Steelheads could not convert with the man advantage.

Billy Christopoulos made 36 saves while only giving up one goal to earn the win and First Star honors for the Walleye. Peter Thome recorded the loss for Idaho in a 32-save performance.

What’s Next:

The Walleye look to extend their home win streak to three straight games tomorrow night in a rematch against the Idaho Steelheads. Puck drop from the Huntington Center is set for 7:15 p.m.

Three Stars:

  1. Toledo – Billy Christopoulos (W, 36 saves)
  2. Toledo – Brandon Hawkins (power play goal, assist)
  3. Toledo – Randy Gazzola (goal, assist)

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