TOLEDO, OHIO - The Walleye showed up and showed out tonight at home with a 6-3 win over the Fort Wayne Komets. A total of 8,034 fans packed the Huntington Center to witness Toledo's first home win of the season.
Exactly one year ago, the Komets hosted the Walleye for their annual Thanksgiving night matchup. Toledo got the 3-2 overtime victory at the Memorial Coliseum. Tonight was a unique matchup as neither of the rivals had recorded a win on their home ice going into the game. Contrary to the usual white home jerseys, the Walleye sported purple sweaters in celebration of their Hockey Fights Cancer Night.
Toledo's starting lineup included a new face this evening with John Lethemon earning his first start in goal for the Fish. Fort Wayne's starting goaltender, Rylan Parenteau, was acquired in a trade with the Walleye just over a week ago.
Lethemon was put to the test early on the first Komets shot of the game. Defenseman Benjamin Gagné's shot from the blue line snuck past the Toledo netminder to put the Komets up 1-0 just 1:09 in. Stefano Giliati and Shawn Boudrias tallied the assists.
About six minutes later, Lukas Craggs lit the lamp to make it a tie game. Cole Fraser sent the puck off the boards away from the Walleye defensive zone. Sam Craggs then tipped the puck off to his brother at the red line who finished on a wrist shot that flew past Parenteau's left pad.
Trenton Bliss, who returned to Toledo from Grand Rapids earlier today, joined in on the scoring late in the eleventh minute when he beat a Komets defender and snuck the puck through Parenteau's five-hole on a backhanded shot. Lukas Craggs earned his second point of the game with the lone assist.
The first power play of the game went to the Walleye when Samuel Dove McFalls was called for slashing at 12:44 of the opening period. An Anthony Petruzzelli tripping call just over a minute later gave Toledo the two-man advantage for the next 49 seconds.
Thomas Ebbing extended the Walleye lead to two on the power play off a one-timer from Brandon Hawkins. Gordi Green picked up the second assist to extend his three-game point streak to four.
Each team saw a player head to the penalty box at the 16:00 mark. Fort Wayne's Gagné received a two-minute cross-checking minor and Toledo's Trenton Bliss picked up a slashing minor. Gordi Myer joined Bliss in the box after receiving a high-sticking minor 20 seconds later.
Toledo got another power play chance with 44 seconds remaining in the first period when Fort Wayne's Scott Allan headed to the box for roughing. Thanks to a Walleye faceoff win to open the power play, a Brandon Hawkins shot was tipped past Parenteau by Thomas Ebbing to send Toledo into the first intermission with the 4-1 lead.
The Walleye outshot the Komets, 9-7, in the opening period. Toledo finished four of their chances while Fort Wayne only finished one.
Colton Point replaced Rylan Parenteau between the pipes to start the second period for the Komets. The scoring momentum established by Toledo in the first period carried over to the second as Gordie Green made it 5-1 in favor of the Fish at the 9:25 mark. Ryan Lowney found Brandon Hawkins who placed a perfect pass to Green as he crashed the net and finished on the one-timer.
Toledo's first penalty kill of the period began at 10:39 as Mitchell Heard headed to the box for hooking. With eight seconds remaining in the Fort Wayne power play, Anthony Petruzzelli earned himself a trip to the box for tripping.
Toledo's lead jumped to five at 13:57 when Joseph Nardi scored his first professional goal on the power play. John Albert also got his second assist of the season and Gordie Green notched his second of the game and ninth on the year.
Another penalty went to Fort Wayne at 17:04 for slashing. Just over a minute into the Walleye penalty kill, Lukas Craggs made it four-on-four with a high-sticking penalty. Toledo allowed no Fort Wayne shots in the remainder of the period.
The Walleye pumped the brakes on scoring in the third period. Fort Wayne put up a fight to cut the Walleye lead to three by the fifth minute. Scott Allan got the equal-strength goal for the Komets at 2:07 and Blake Siebenaler notched the power play goal at 5:01.
The first Fort Wayne penalty of the final period went to Marcus McIvor at 11:47 for hooking. The Walleye recorded five consecutive shots on the power play.
Conlan Keenan received the lone Toledo penalty of the third when the puck went out of play off his stick at 17:46. Joshua Winquist cut the Fort Wayne power play short on a tripping call at 18:32. Each team recorded a single shot in the remaining minute and 28 seconds.
The Komets entered tonight's game sitting at second in the league for penalty minutes per game averaging 19. They came close to that number tonight, totaling 16 penalty minutes to Toledo's seven.
The Walleye went three for seven on the power play tonight while the Komets finished on only one of their five. Fort Wayne was outshot by the Walleye, 31-26, in the first home win for the Fish this season. The Komets are now the only team in the ECHL not to record a home win yet.
Ten different Walleye contributed to the scoring tonight with four of them having multi-point nights. In his first game back with Toledo after spending just over two weeks with the AHL's Chicago Wolves, Brandon Hawkins earned a season-high three assists in the win. Gordie Green also had a three-point night with a goal and two assists. Lukas Craggs (1G, 1A) and Thomas Ebbing (2G) each had two points.
The exciting win was also a night of firsts in more ways than one. With nine assists in the first eleven games of the season, Joseph Nardi earned his tenth point tonight on his first professional goal. Cole Fraser notched his first assist and John Lethemon got his first Walleye start in the win as well.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
1)TOL - T. Ebbing (2G)
2) TOL - B. Hawkins (3A)
3) TOL - G. Green (1G, 2A)
The Walleye will travel west to face the Komets on their home ice tomorrow night at 7:30.