KALAMAZOO, Mich. - After ending each period of tonight's game in a tie, the Walleye exerted an ultimate team effort to defeat the Wings, 4-3, in overtime on the road.
Both the Walleye and Wings are in unique situations at this early point in the season. While the Wings still have yet to play a game on the road this season, the Walleye have spent all of their games on the road.
Toledo put Kalamazoo goaltender Evan Cormier to the test early on with a series of shots. At the top of the sixth minute, the Walleye managed possession in the attacking zone. Mitchell Heard split a pair of Wings with a pass to Gordi Myer from the right circle. Myer fired a shot from the left faceoff dot, but Wings forward Logan Lambdin got a piece of it. Luckily, the puck ended up on John Albert's stick right in front of the crease and he put it over Cormier's left pad to put the Walleye up 1-0.
At the 13:05 mark, Cossa headed to the bench as what became a double high-sticking minor was signaled by the referee. Lukas Craggs joined his team on the ice for the man advantage, nearly making it a 2-0 game as he received a Gordie Green pass that went wide off his stick.
Toledo's first power play of the game lasted only 51 seconds as Thomas Ebbing headed to the box for tripping at 14:07. Nine seconds into four-on-four play, Kalamazoo's Chad Nychuk fired one on Cossa between the circles and made it a tie game.
Kalamazoo went on the man advantage at 15:04 as Toledo's Joseph Nardi joined Ebbing in the box for high-sticking. The Walleye earned the penalty kill and Cossa saved all of Kalamazoo's five shots in the remaining minutes of the first to keep it a tie game after 20.
Toledo got to work early in the second when Gordie Green bypassed a Wings defender heading into the attacking zone with the puck. Finding himself in a three-on-one, Green found Joe Nardi who then found Brandon Hawkins. With the first shot of the second, Hawkins sniped one past Cormier into the top right corner to give the Fish the 2-1 lead at the 2:14 mark.
In the eighth minute, Cole Fraser came from Mason McCarty's left with a hit that sent his stick to the ice. Justin Murray came to his teammate's defense as gloves were dropped between him and Fraser. After a brief review break, Cole Fraser was sent to the locker room with a game misconduct, as well as a five-minute major for elbowing. Murray was given five for fighting and a two-minute minor for instigating.
On their second power play of the game, the Wings made it a tie game once again off a Mason McCarty goal. The remainder of the half went scoreless.
Just twelve seconds into the final period, Kalamazoo's Matheson Iacopelli snuck one past Cossa to give the Wings a 3-2 lead. About four minutes later, Mitchell Heard found himself battling on the boards in the attacking zone. Conlan Keenan swooped in to assist, spun away with the puck, and fell between the circles as he passed to Gordi Myer through the legs of a Wings defender. Myer dragged the puck away from Cormier and finished smoothly to make it a 3-3 tie.
At 4:49, Kalamazoo's Justin Taylor headed to the box for interference. Toledo was unable to make something happen on the power play, but they were given another chance at 15:41 when Olivier LeBlanc was called for hooking. Ebbing and Boeing each had shots on the power play, but Cormier came up strong. Each team earned a point after 60 as they headed into overtime.
The Walleye dominated possession to open the three-on-three overtime period. Kalamazoo applied pressure, but Mitchell Heard ended up with the puck in his defensive zone, looking to move it up the ice. Seeing nothing but space, Heard made his way down the right side into the attacking zone, bypassing two Wings in the process.
As he neared Kalamazoo's net, Justin Murray forced him to the left side. Heard managed to shimmy past Murray and fire the puck past Cormier to get the game-winning goal exactly two minutes into overtime.
The goal made it a three-point game for Heard as he earned assists on goals in the first and third periods. Gordi Myer and Joseph Nardi each had two points on the night. Five other Walleye walked away with a single point. Goaltender Sebastian Cossa, saving a total of 20 shots, earned his third straight win with the Walleye to remain undefeated in the ECHL.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
1) TOL - Heard (1G, 2A)
2) KAL - Nychuk (1G, 1A)
3) TOL - Myer (1G, 1A)
Tomorrow is the night we have all been waiting for. The "Revenge Tour" continues at the Huntington Center for the home opener against Cincinnati at 7:15 p.m.