CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye scored the final three goals in Game 4 of the Central Division Semifinals to pull away from the Cincinnati Cyclones, 4-1, on Wednesday night. The win helped the Walleye pull even in the series, 2-2, to snap a two-game losing streak.
TJ Hensick scored the game-winning goal in the second period while Brandon Hawkins collected a point on three of Toledo’s four goals. With the win, the Walleye regained home ice advantage in the series and secured a Game 6 return to Toledo on Saturday.
Cole Fraser led the Walleye to an early 1-0 lead, scoring just 1:47 into the contest with an unassisted goal. The score was his first of the playoffs, giving the Walleye the early cushion.
The Walleye and Cyclones played an even period with ten shots each, but Toledo had multiple big scoring opportunities, taking two penalty shots in less than three minutes of play. Brett Boeing took the first penalty shot at 12:38 while Patrick Curry earned an opportunity with 15:35 gone. Michael Houser turned both shots aside to keep the Walleye within one.
The Walleye ended the period on the power play after Justin Vaive was penalized for interference. The man advantage extended into the first 1:13 of the middle frame, with the Cyclones earning the penalty kill. Ten seconds after Cincinnati returned to full strength, Justin Vaive stole the puck from Billy Christopoulos and found Zack Andrusiak in front of the open net for the goal.
Toledo and Cincinnati played the next six minutes in a tie before TJ Hensick netted a power play goal to put the Walleye back in front. John Albert and Brandon Hawkins assisted as Toledo earned its second goal of the game.
With 18:58 gone in the second period, Patrick Curry found the back of the net as Mitchell Heard and Brandon Hawkins assisted. The Walleye took the two-score lead with the goal, the largest margin for either team so far in the series. Toledo ended the period with a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
The Walleye outshot the Cyclones, 9-8, in the final period as they looked to maintain their lead. Cincinnati’s Sean Allen was called for slashing just over a minute into the frame, putting Toledo back on the power play. The Cyclones earned the penalty kill to remain within two goals of the Walleye with 17 minutes left in regulation.
Neither team picked up another penalty for the rest of regulation, forcing Cincinnati to score at equal strength. As time ticked away in the period, Cincinnati brought Michael Houser to the bench and added an extra skater as they looked to chip away at a two-goal deficit.
Houser left the net at the 18:00 mark, and nine seconds later, Gordi Myer found Brandon Hawkins in front of the empty net for the goal, his third of the series. TJ Hensick added a secondary assist to finish the game with two points while Hawkins tallied three.
Houser returned to the net following the empty netter, and the Walleye skated to a 4-1 victory to tie the series at two games.
The Walleye took 32 shots to Cincinnati’s 28 in the contest while leading in power play opportunities, 4-2. Toledo scored on the man advantage once while holding the Cyclones without a power play goal.
Billy Christopoulos stopped all but one shot to pick up the win for the Walleye in a 27-save performance. Michael Houser was credited with the loss for the Cyclones, saving 28-of-31 shots.
The Walleye will look to regain the series lead against the Cyclones tomorrow night in Game 5 of the Central Division Semifinals. The contest will mark the final road game before the series shifts back to Toledo. Puck drop from Heritage Bank Center is set for 7:35 p.m.
- Toledo – Brandon Hawkins (empty net goal, two assists)
- Toledo – TJ Hensick (game-winning power play goal, assist)
- Cincinnati – Michael Houser (L, 28 saves, two saved penalty shots)