TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye finished the regular season in style Saturday night, scoring six straight goals over the first two periods to complete a 9-2 thrashing of the Kalamazoo Wings at the Huntington Center. The Walleye captured the Brabham Cup title with the victory, finishing with the ECHL’s best record to secure home-ice advantage for the duration of the Kelly Cup playoffs.
Mitchell Heard led the Fish with a three-goal hat trick, picking up four total points in the second period, and Brandon Hawkins added a pair of goals to finish the regular season with a team-high 35 goals. The Walleye will go on to face the Cincinnati Cyclones in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs to begin their 2021-22 title campaign.
The Walleye pummeled the Wings early with eight shots in the first eight minutes of play. One of those found the back of the net off the stick of Patrick Curry as the Fish took the early lead. Brett Boeing provided the lone assist on the power play goal, Curry’s fifth for the Walleye this season.
Chris Martenet entered the penalty box with 11:19 gone to give the Wings a power play chance of their own, and Jake Slaker converted to the tie game at one. Erik Bradford and Justin Murray assisted as the Wings got on the board for the first time.
The Walleye finished the period with 12 shots on goal to Kalamazoo’s five, capping off the period with a Brandon Hawkins goal with less than a second remaining. The goal came at a sharp angle from the right side of the net as Curry and TJ Hensick assisted.
The Fish entered the second period with the 2-1 lead and left with a six-goal advantage. Mitchell Heard scored three times in the frame, starting with a goal from the right circle off a Jesse Mychan pass at the 1:15 mark. Reece Harsch also added an assist.
Heard scored again with 14:18 gone to start a Walleye run of four goals scored in less than three minutes. Matt Berry and Chris Martenet collected the assists on Heard’s second goal. 42 seconds later, TJ Hensick scored from behind the net off the shoulder of Jake Kielly as Brandon Hawkins assisted.
With 16:49 gone, Matt Berry found the back of the net for his 24th goal of the season, continuing the Walleye tear. Heard and Gordi Myer picked up assists on the goal as the Walleye took the 6-1 lead.
Trailing by five, the Wings pulled Kielly and brought in Goaltender Trevor Gorsuch. The change did not stop the Fish from scoring as Mitchell Heard sealed his hat trick with another goal just nine seconds later. Matt Berry recorded the lone assist, feeding the puck to heard off a turnover for the goal. Heard collected four points in the middle frame while Berry added three as the Fish took a commanding 7-1 lead.
The Wings ended the Walleye’s run of six straight goals 3:27 into the third period as Jake Slaker found the back of the net on the power play for the second time in the game. Just like his first goal, Erik Bradford and Justin Murray assisted.
With 10:39 gone, Gordi Myer brought the Walleye lead back to seven with his fifth goal of the season. Brent Pedersen and John Albert assisted on Toledo’s eight goal of the night.
At 12:51, Brandon Hawkins capped off the scoring for the Walleye with his 35th goal of the season. Chris Martenet and Patrick Curry each recorded their second assist of the game on the equal strength goal, and the Fish took a game-high seven goal lead. With the tally, Hawkins moved into second all-time in Walleye goals scored in a season.
The Walleye held the Wings to just two shots in the final seven minutes of play to secure the 9-2 win at the Huntington Center. Toledo finished the regular season with a 49-19-2-2 record, the best in the ECHL to secure the Brabham Cup title for the 2021-22 season.
The Walleye held in the advantage in shots, 34-20, keeping the Wings under ten shots in each frame. Each team earned three power play opportunities, with the Wings scoring twice and the Walleye finding the back of the net once.
Billy Christopoulos took the win in net for the Walleye, saving 18-of-20 shots to finish with a 23-6-3 record in 32 games. Jake Kielly was credited with the loss for Kalamazoo. He played the first 36:49 for the Wings, saving 17-of-23 shots before Trevor Gorsuch finished the final 23:11 in net for Kalamazoo. Gorsuch made eight saves on 11 shots in relief.
The Walleye will begin their Kelly Cup playoff run this week, hosting the Cincinnati Cyclones for the first two games of the series. Game one of the best-of-seven series is set for Friday, April 22, with a 7:35 p.m. puck drop at the Huntington Center.
- Toledo – Mitchell Heard (three goals, assist)
- Toledo – Brandon Hawkins (two goals, assist)
- Toledo – Patrick Curry (power play goal, two assists)