WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Toledo Walleye had an uphill battle to fight on Friday night at the Maverik Center, trailing the Utah Grizzlies, 4-0, nearly halfway through Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, but Chris Martenet and Brett McKenzie led a string of five straight Walleye goals to complete a 5-4 comeback win in Utah.
Brett McKenzie tied the game with just 1:30 remaining in regulation, and Chris Martenet buried the game-winner 5:01 into overtime. With the victory, the Walleye took a commanding 3-1 series lead to pull within one win of a Kelly Cup Finals berth.
Utah came out firing in the first period, scoring a whopping four goals to open the game. All of those came in the second half of the period, with the first goal coming at the 10:05 mark off the stick of Trey Bradley. Tarun Fizer assisted on the goal, which came at equal strength for Bradley’s sixth of the playoffs.
23 seconds later, Fizer got a goal of his own from the left circle as Zach Tsekos and Bradley recorded the helpers. Fizer has four goals in the playoffs.
With 14:14 gone, Tyler Penner extended the Utah lead to three, receiving a pass from below the goal line and scoring from the right circle. Dakota Raabe and Connor McDonald collected the assists.
After allowing three goals in just over four minutes, the Walleye took a timeout. The Grizzlies led in shots on goal, 11-5, at that point in the period and already took the power play three times. The Walleye penalty kill unit prevented goals on all three chances with the man advantage, with each goal coming at equal strength.
Following the timeout, the Walleye held off the Grizzlies for the next 4:33 before Utah’s lead ballooned to four on a Zach Tsekos goal with help from Bradley and Kyle Pouncy. That goal marked the only Utah shot for the remainder of the period after the timeout, bringing the total to 12-7 in favor of the Grizzlies.
8:21 into the second period, Toledo got on the board for the first time in the contest as John Albert scored on the power play for his seventh goal of the playoffs. Brandon Hawkins and Matt Berry added helpers on the Walleye’s first goal of the night.
With 17:04 gone, Blake Hillman cut the Utah lead to two, collecting the puck between the circles, maneuvering around two Utah defenders, and finding the back of the net for his first goal of the playoffs. The goal came unassisted as the Walleye earned their second goal of the period.
The Walleye took ten shots in the period to Utah’s nine and held the Grizzlies scoreless in the middle frame, putting themselves within striking distance with a period to play at the Maverik Center.
Utah had a chance to go back up by three at the 6:37 mark in the third period as the Grizzlies received a penalty shot after Cam Clarke hooked Dylan Fitze on a breakaway opportunity. Fitze beat Christopoulos on the shot but sent the puck off the iron. The score remained 4-2 in favor of Utah with 13:23 to play.
At the 13:20 mark, Tarun Fizer entered the penalty box for five minutes on a cross-checking major, sending Toledo to the power play for the second time in the game. The Walleye closed the gap to one as Patrick Curry found the back of the net on a one-timer from the right circle. Josh Dickinson and Cam Clarke assisted as Patrick Curry tallied his seventh goal of the season.
Down one, the Walleye brought on the extra skater at the 18:11 mark, and it paid off 19 seconds later as Brett McKenzie tied the game with 1:30 to play. Matt Berry and Mitchell Heard added helpers as the Walleye pulled even with the Grizzlies for the first time since the midway point in the first period. The contest headed to overtime knotted at four goals apiece.
Just past the five-minute mark in the overtime period, Chris Martenet took a shot from the blue line and netted the game-winner as Brandon Hawkins and TJ Hensick assisted. The goal, his second of the playoffs, was the final goal of a string of five unanswered to give the Walleye the 5-4 win and 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Toledo took 33 shots to Utah’s 30 in the contest while also holding the advantage on the power play with two goals to the Grizzlies’ zero. The Walleye were perfect on the man advantage, while Utah came up empty on three chances.
Billy Christopoulos saved 26-of-30 shots for the Walleye en route to his 11th win in net during the playoffs. Peyton Jones recorded the loss for the Grizzlies, saving 28 shots on 33 opportunities.
The Walleye and Grizzlies will return to the ice on Saturday, May 28, for Game 5. Toledo will look to close out the series with a win to advance to the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time since 2019. Puck drop from the Maverik Center is set for 9:10 p.m. EDT.
- Toledo – Chris Martenet (game-winning goal)
- Toledo – Brett McKenzie (game-tying goal)
- Toledo – TJ Hensick (assist)