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Walleye fall to Nailers, 2-1, in defensive battle

Thursday, March 10th
Walleye fall to Nailers, 2-1, in defensive battle

WHEELING, W.Va. – The Toledo Walleye held the Wheeling Nailers to just two goals Wednesday night, but the Fish could not find an answer for Wheeling goaltender Brody Cleays as the Nailers edged the Walleye, 2-1.

Mitchell Heard scored the lone goal for the Walleye midway through the second period, and Kaden Fulcher stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced. The loss brought Toledo’s seven-game road win streak dating back to Jan. 14 to an end.

The Walleye held the Nailers without a shot for the first eight minutes of play before Wheeling sent 15 shots toward Kaden Fulcher over the rest of the first period. The Nailers found the back of the net at the 16:37 mark to get on the board first as Justin Almeida scored with help from Sam Houde and Matthew Quercia.

40 seconds later, Chris Martenet was called for cross checking, leaving Toledo shorthanded for the first time. The Walleye successfully held off the Nailers during the power play to keep the game a one-score game late in the first. Toledo took eight shots in the period as the Nailers took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Nailers extended their lead to two goals early in the second period as Cam Hausinger found the back of the net at the 5:26 mark. Adam Smith and Tim Doherty assisted on the Wheeling goal, giving the Nailers their largest lead of the game.

Chris Martenet entered the penalty box again at the 5:41 mark for slashing, sending the Nailers back on the power play. The Walleye prevented Wheeling from scoring once again before responding midway through the frame to trim the lead to one. Mitchell Heard scored the goal from straight on as Matt Berry and Conlan Keenan assisted. Heard now has 11 goals on the season.

The Nailers had an opportunity to collect their third goal of the game when Butrus Ghafari was called for hooking from behind at 15:37, giving Wheeling a penalty shot. Kaden Fulcher turned Tim Doherty’s attempt aside, and the score remained 2-1 in favor of the Nailers.

Patrick Watling was called for slashing just six seconds later, putting the Walleye on the power play for the only time. Wheeling came away with the successful penalty kill, and the Walleye ended the second period trailing by one with 20 minutes left to play.

The Walleye dominated offensively in the third period, taking 13 shots to Wheeling’s four as they looked to tie the game. At the 11:55 mark, Brandon Schultz and Sam Houde each picked up a penalty for diving and interference, respectively, and a 4-on-4 resulted for the next two minutes. Toledo came up empty during the penalties, continuing to look to send the game to overtime.

Kaden Fulcher vacated the Toledo net with 1:36 to play, and the Walleye pummeled Wheeling with multiple shots in the final minute. Brody Claeys turned each of them aside before Mitchell Heard collected a tripping penalty with ten seconds to play. Kaden Fulcher returned to the net, and the Fish failed to collect another shot as the Nailers earned the 2-1 victory.

The Walleye edged the Nailers in shots, 27-25, behind a 13-shot third period. The Nailers had three power play opportunities while the Walleye had one. Neither team found the back of the net with the man advantage.

Brody Claeys stopped 26-of-27 shots in a full 60 minutes to pick up the win in net for the Nailers. Kaden Fulcher’s two-game win streak in net for the Walleye came to an end despite a 23-save performance where he only gave up two goals.

What’s Next:

The Walleye return home on Friday night for the first of three straight games against the Idaho Steelheads. Puck drop from the Huntington Center is set for 7:15 p.m.

Three Stars:

  1. Wheeling – Brody Claeys (W, 26 saves)
  2. Wheeling – Cam Hausinger (goal)
  3. Toledo – Kaden Fulcher (L, 23 saves)

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