TOLEDO, OHIO - In their lone game of the week, the Walleye dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Nailers, picking up a point in the process.
This was game number seven of eleven between the Walleye and the Nailers this season. Toledo took the first two in a road sweep to open the season. The next four went to Wheeling, one of them being a shootout loss on Toledo's home ice.
With Sebastian Cossa back in Grand Rapids, goaltender John Lethemon got the start this evening for the Walleye. This was his second appearance in net against Wheeling this season. His first was a 4-1 loss on the road on November 27. Taylor Gauthier got his fourth start against Toledo tonight. He was 2-1-0 against the Walleye heading into the matchup.
The first penalty of the game went to Toledo's Ryan Lowney for hooking with 5:18 gone. Wheeling recorded three shots on the power play and John Albert had a breakaway chance that nearly resulted in a short-handed goal for the Walleye. With the first shot after the Toledo penalty kill, Brett McKenzie made it a 1-0 game from the top of the left circle. Brandon Hawkins and Cole Fraser picked up the assists on the equal-strength goal.
The Nailers were quick to tie it up as Josh Maniscalco connected a pass to Cam Hausinger who sent the puck past Lethemon just under two minutes after the Toledo goal. The Walleye went on their second penalty kill of the game 17:37 into the first after a Brett Boeing tripping call. Exactly ten seconds into the Wheeling man advantage, Josh Maniscalco, assisted by Brooklyn Kalmikov and Cam Hausinger, gave the Nailers the 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission. The shots on goal advantage went to Wheeling after 20 minutes as they secured eleven to Toledo's nine.
The Walleye came out fighting with several key scoring opportunities in the opening half of the second period. Their first power play of the game came 12:26 in as Justin Addamo slashed Mitchell Heard one second after the forward registered a shot on Wheeling's Gauthier. With seven seconds gone in the Walleye man advantage, Brandon Hawkins found Gordie Green at the top of the right circle who sent the puck toward the Wheeling net. Thomas Ebbing got the quick tip on Green's pass to secure the power play goal that made it a tie game. Another Toledo power play came at the 15:08 mark as Wheeling's Carter Johnson received a roughing minor. The Nailers held the Walleye to just one shot on the penalty kill and the second period concluded in a 2-2 tie with Toledo getting the 14-12 edge in shots.
The Walleye carried their momentum into the third as they saw another series of scoring chances throughout the opening half of the final period. Wheeling got their third power play of the night after a Tommy Parran hooking minor 7:34 in. The Walleye secured the penalty kill and went on to make it a 3-2 game under two minutes later. Brett McKenzie's second goal of the night was a one-timer that went through the five-hole of Gauthier. Gordie Green and Tommy Parran were credited with the assists.
Just as he did in the first, Cam Hausinger tied it back up almost two minutes later with Chris Ortiz and Carter Johnson picking up the assists. With just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Mitchell Heard put the Walleye back in the lead as he pulled off a spin move between the circles and finished over the left shoulder of Gauthier. Gordi Myer picked up the first assist while Riley McCourt got the second. Wheeling was even quicker to get the equalizer as Chris Ortiz found Justin Addamo who finished for the Nailers 17 seconds later. The tie remained after the final period to push the game into overtime.
With one half of the overtime period gone, Toledo held the 3-1 shot advantage. Just one second beyond the halfway mark, Brooklyn Kalmikov, with the assistance of Josh Maniscalco and Adam Smith, beat Lethemon to end a four-game losing streak for the Nailers. Toledo had the final shot advantage with a count of 37 to 32.
In his first game back after a month, Brett McKenzie notched the first and third Walleye goals tonight. With an assist on the first and second goals, Brandon Hawkins notched his fifth multi-point game of the season. With an assist on Mitchell Heard's late third period goal, Riley McCourt tallied his first point in a Walleye sweater. After spending almost three weeks in Grand Rapids on a professional tryout, Gordie Green picked up two assists in his first game back with Toledo.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
1) WHL - B. Kalmikov (1G, 1A)
2) WHL - C. Hausinger (2G, 1A)
3) TOL - B. McKenzie (2G)
The Walleye remain home for their next contest, their only one this season against Newfoundland, on Tuesday evening at 7:15.