WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The Toledo Walleye survived a late push from the Utah Grizzlies to take the 5-4 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals at the Maverik Center.
The Walleye led as many as four goals in the second period after scoring three unanswered goals before the Grizzlies went on their own three-goal run to make the contest tight late in the third period. Toledo ultimately held off Utah to take the 2-1 series lead behind a goal and two assists from Patrick Curry and two goals from Mitchell Heard.
It only took 31 seconds for the Walleye to get on the board as Brandon Hawkins scored his 11th goal of the playoffs. Josh Dickinson and Gordi Myer assisted as Toledo took the early lead.
Less than four minutes later, that lead extended to two as Mitchell Heard found the back of the net at the 4:24 mark. Patrick Curry and Blake Hillman recorded the helpers as Heard tallied his first goal of the playoffs.
Toledo edged Utah, 11-10, in shots in the opening frame, and both teams played a penalty-free period. The Walleye’s two early goals gave them the 2-0 lead heading into the second period.
The Grizzlies had a chance to get on the board just 41 seconds in when they were awarded a penalty shot. Billy Christopoulos stopped the shot off the stick of Connor McDonald to keep Utah scoreless, but Charle-Edouard D’Astous found the back of the net at the 1:54 mark to give the Grizzlies their first goal of the game. Tarun Fizer and Benjamin Tardif assisted on the goal.
After the strong second period start for Utah, Patrick Curry shifted the momentum in favor of the Walleye with a steal near the Utah blue line that led to a Toledo tally at 6:29. Curry’s goal came unassisted on Toledo’s first shot of the frame, increasing his playoff goal total to six.
Over the next few minutes, the Walleye found themselves on the power play and soon with the two-man advantage as Tarun Fizer picked up a high-sticking penalty at 8:54 and Charle-Edouard D’Astous was called for slashing at 9:31. TJ Hensick took advantage with six seconds left in the Fizer penalty, scoring off a Matt Berry pass in front of the net for his ninth goal of the playoffs. John Albert added a secondary assist as the Fish took the 4-1 lead.
Mitchell Heard increased that lead to 5-1 with his second goal of the game at the 11:26 mark as Josh Dickinson and Patrick Curry assisted. Curry had three points by the end of the second period with a goal and two assists.
With 14:36 gone, Zach Tsekos ended Toledo’s streak of three unanswered goals, giving the Grizzlies their second goal of the game. Trey Bradley and Tarun Fizer added helpers to bring Utah within three goals of the visitors.
That goal was the beginning of a rally for Utah that continued into the third period with a Dylan Fitze power play goal at the 2:40 mark. The tally followed a Marcus Vela tripping minor with 1:31 gone to pull Utah within two. Tarun Fizer and Charle-Eduoard D’Astous assisted.
Just past the midway point in the frame, Toledo’s lead was trimmed to just one as Tyler Penner found the back of the net for the Grizzlies. Trey Bradley and Nate Clurman assisted Penner at equal strength for Utah’s third straight goal.
Utah had another opportunity to score with the man advantage and tie the game when Gordi Myer was called for hooking at 16:22. The Walleye held off the Grizzlies on the penalty kill, giving Utah just 1:38 left in regulation to score.
With 55 seconds remaining, Trent Miner vacated the Utah net to bring on an extra skater, but Toledo was able to hold off the Grizzlies to secure the 5-4 win. The Walleye took the series lead, 2-1, with the Game 3 victory.
The Walleye took 29 shots to the Grizzlies’ 26 while both teams took the man advantage three times. Toledo scored twice on the power play while Utah found the back of the net once.
Billy Christopoulos earned the win in net for the Walleye with 22 saves on 26 shots. Trent Miner recorded the loss for Utah despite saving 10-of-11 shots after relieving Peyton Jones after Toledo’s fourth goal midway through the second period. Jones saved 14-of-18 shots for the Grizzlies.
The Walleye and Grizzlies will return to the ice for Game 4 on Friday, May 27, as Toledo looks to take the 3-1 series lead. Puck drop from the Maverik Center is set for 9:10 p.m. EDT.
- Toledo – Patrick Curry (goal, two assists)
- Toledo – Mitchell Heard (two goals)
- Utah – Tarun Fizer (three assists)