TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye scored three goals in the opening period of Friday night’s contest with the Fort Wayne Komets and held off a late push from the Komets to earn a 5-4 win at the Huntington Center.
Brandon Hawkins led the Fish with a power play goal and two assists, collecting a point on each of Toledo’s three power play goals. With the win, the Walleye move to 43-17-1-2 with nine games remaining in the regular season.
The Walleye unleashed an offensive attack on the Komets in the first period, outshooting Fort Wayne, 17-7, and jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes. Conlan Keenan got the scoring started for the Fish as Quinn Preston found Brett Boeing in the right circle, who met Keenan at the left side of the net for the goal at 5:25. The goal was Keenan’s 13th of the season. Boeing collected his 18th assist while Preston picked up his first point in his professional debut.
Brandon Hawkins followed at 11:55 with a power play goal from the top of the left circle. Hawkins extended his goal streak to three and his point streak to five with his team-leading 26th goal of the season. Randy Gazzola and TJ Hensick assisted.
The Walleye went on the power play again at the 17:37 mark after a Shawn Szydlowski double minor for high-sticking, and Mitchell Heard converted as the first period horn sounded, securing the Fish a three-goal lead heading into the intermission. Hawkins recorded the primary assist and Jesse Mychan picked up the secondary assist for his first point in a Walleye uniform.
The Komets scored just 36 seconds into a back-and-forth second period as Will Graber, assisted by Zach Tolkinen and Connor Jones, found the back of the net. At 1:45, Brett Boeing responded with help from Quinn Preston to record his 20th goal of the season. The goal brought the score to 4-1 with 18 minutes to play in the frame.
Neither team scored again until the 11:16 mark when Fort Wayne’s Will Graber lit the lamp again to trim Toledo’s lead back to two. The goal, which came on the power play, was assisted by Kellen Jones and Zach Pochiro.
The penalties started piling up late for the Komets and ultimately proved costly for the visitors. Connor Jones entered the penalty box for slashing at the 16:41 mark, and Kellen Jones joined him at 18:00 for boarding. With the 5-on-3 advantage, John Albert scored his 24th goal of the season to give the Walleye the 5-2 lead. TJ Hensick and Brandon Hawkins assisted, each collecting their second helper of the game as the Walleye entered the final intermission with the lead.
The Komets put together a comeback push in the final period, scoring twice in the first half of the frame to cut the Walleye’s lead to one. Zach Pochiro scored at the 2:47 mark with help from Willie Corrin and Connor Jones, and Anthony Petruzzelli struck on the power play at the 8:21 mark as Shawn Szydlowski and Corrin assisted.
With just under five minutes to play, Fort Wayne went on the power play after a skirmish between Matt Berry and Zach Tolkinen, resulting in both players receiving double minors for roughing and Berry collecting a boarding penalty. The Walleye held of the Komets’ push to force Fort Wayne to pull their goaltender with 32 seconds remaining. Fort Wayne got off one shot in the final ten seconds, but Max Milosek turned the puck aside to help the Walleye escape with the 5-4 victory.
The Komets held a 34-31 shot advantage over the course of the game and held the Walleye to just three shots in the final frame. Both teams had five power play opportunities, with the Walleye converting three to Fort Wayne’s two.
Max Milosek earned his third straight win in net for the Walleye. He made 30 saves on 34 shots en route to his tenth win of the season. Mario Culina was credited with the loss for the Komets. He saved 26-of-31 shots in the effort.
The Walleye return to the ice tomorrow night to take on the Indy Fuel for the final time at home this season. Puck drop from the Huntington Center is set for 7:15 p.m.
- Toledo – Brandon Hawkins (power play goal, two assists)
- Fort Wayne – Will Graber (two goals)
- Toledo – Brett Boeing (goal, assist)