TOLEDO, OHIO - Tonight's 4-3 victory over Kalamazoo put an end to a three-game losing streak for the Walleye. This was also the first Toledo win over a divisional opponent since December 10.
The Walleye came out hot in the opening period with a whopping 20 shots, two of which gave them the lead after 20 minutes. Toledo's Riley McCourt took the only penalty of the first period for high-sticking halfway through the second minute. In the next nine minutes, the Walleye saw 16 consecutive shots on the Kalamazoo net, two of which made it past Wings netminder Cormier. The eleventh shot was a Thomas Ebbing goal; during a scrum in front of the Kalamazoo net, the forward finished on his own rebound to put the Walleye on the board with 7:15 gone. Trenton Bliss and Brandon Hawkins were the assisters.
Just under five minutes later, Toledo took a two-goal lead after Conlan Keenan, with the assistance of Mitchell Heard and Riley McCourt, finished from right outside of the crease. With 2:27 remaining in the first, a Walleye turnover led to an unassisted Kalamazoo goal as Brennan Blaszczak made it 2-1. Toledo was just six shots shy of matching a franchise record of 26 shots in a single period.
The Wings were quick to tie it up in period two on an equal-strength goal from Coale Norris at 4:35. The 2-2 score was short-lived, however, as Tommy Parran put Toledo back in the lead after a scramble in front of the Kalamazoo net. With the assists, Sam Craggs got his first of the night while Mitchell Heard picked up his second. Immediately following the goal, Kalamazoo's Justin Murray had Sam Craggs in a headlock. Even after officials interfered, the two lost their gloves and landed themselves in the box with matching misconducts and double minors.
At 16:38, Gordie Green extended Toledo's lead to two as he made a diving finish on a wide-open Kalamazoo net. Cole Fraser and Chays Ruddy picked up their first points of the night with the helpers. The Walleye got the 12-11 edge in shots in the middle frame.
Toledo's first power play of the game came 2:38 into the final period as Kalamazoo's Tyler Rockwell picked up a tripping penalty. One Toledo shot was recorded on the man advantage. Early in the seventh minute, Wings forward Darby Llewellyn delivered a late hit to Toledo's Trenton Bliss along the Walleye bench. Bliss retaliated, resulting in matching roughing minors for both men.
Toledo got their second man advantage of the night shortly after the scoreless 4-on-4 period, but the Wings penalty kill remained strong. Just beyond the 17-minute mark, Toledo's Cédric Lacroix was held up by Justin Taylor in the Kalamazoo zone. As the referee signaled for a penalty, Lacroix slashed the stick of Taylor, resulting in a trip to the box and another 4-on-4 period. With 2:14 remaining, Kalamazoo's Carson Focht put the Wings back within one, but the Walleye held on to the end for the home victory.
Every Walleye skater registered at least one shot in tonight's exciting win at the Huntington Center. With assists on the second and third Toledo goals, Mitchell Heard hit 300 pro points in front of a sellout crowd of 7,918. The forward now has four points (1G, 3A) in his last three games. With an assist on the third Toledo goal, Sam Craggs extended a streak that now has him at five points (2G, 3A) in his last three games. To top it off, Conlan Keenan (1G), Brandon Hawkins (1A), Trenton Bliss (1A), Riley McCourt (1A), and Cole Fraser (1A) all established two-game point streaks.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
1) TOL - G. Green (1G)
2) TOL - T. Parran (1G)
3) TOL - G. Green (2A)
The Walleye travel to Fort Wayne tomorrow for their lone road game of the week at 7:30 p.m.