CORALVILLE, IOWA - The Walleye exhibited a dominating performance tonight, taking the first of three games in Iowa by a score of 6-1.
Tonight was the first of a three-game series between the Walleye and Heartlanders this season. It was also the first between the teams this season. Last year, Toledo went 6-1-2 against the brand new ECHL team based in Coralville, Iowa.
The second Toledo shot resulted in an early lead for the Walleye as Andrew Sturtz opened the scoring under three minutes into the opening period. The goal was his first in over a month after missing ten games due to an injury suffered last month in Norfolk. Charlie Curti and Gordi Myer got the helpers in Sturtz's game-opening marker. One minute later, Iowa went on their first power play as Mitchell Heard headed to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct.
As the 13th minute approached, Donovan Sebrango scooped up the puck near the Iowa blue line, finding Andrew Sturtz to the right of Iowa netminder Corbin Kaczperski. As he was bombarded by Iowa men, Sturtz found defenseman Riley McCourt for a one-timer from the left circle and a two-goal lead for the Walleye. With just under two minutes remaining in the first, James Sanchez cut the Toledo lead in half with an equal-strength goal for the Heartlanders. After 20, Iowa took the 13-12 edge in shots.
The Toledo power play came alive in the second with two of three Walleye goals coming on the man advantage. First, a slashing penalty against Donovan Sebrango was killed off late in the third minute. Toledo's shots quickly picked up as they tallied eight straight in under four minutes.
The first man advantage for the Walleye came at 8:48 as Iowa's Ryan Wheeler picked up a tripping penalty. With the Toledo power play winding down, the Walleye swiftly moved into the Heartlanders zone. As Wheeler left the Iowa box, Mitchell Heard found a centering pass to Conlan Keenan for the one-timer past Kaczperski. Gordi Myer picked up the second assist on the insurance goal.
Nearly a minute later, Iowa's Yuki Miura put Toledo on their second man advantage after a tripping penalty. With 15 seconds remaining on the Walleye power play, Charlie Curti picked up the rebound on Mitchell Heard's shot to make it 4-1. Gordi Myer picked up another helper, his third of the night, on the power play goal.
Late in the 17th minute, Ryan Wheeler took his second trip to the Iowa box following a high-sticking penalty. Thomas Ebbing netted the second Toledo power play goal just six seconds after the faceoff. With the assists, Charlie Curti and Mitchell Heard picked up their third points of the night. After outshooting the Heartlanders 21-6 in the second, the Walleye headed into the final third of the game with a 33-19 advantage.
To start the third period, Trevin Kozlowski replaced Corbin Kaczperski in the Iowa net. The Iowa netminder was put to the test immediately as Riley McCourt picked up the sixth Toledo goal and his second of the night just 1:03 in.
Iowa picked up a power play opportunity late in the third minute as Andrew Sturtz received a hooking minor. With no luck on the man advantage, the struggling Heartlanders got another chance at 5:45 after a cross-checking call against Riley McCourt. The Walleye road penalty kill, currently sitting at second in the league, remained strong. The final Toledo power play came at 14:35 after an interference penalty against Iowa's Ryan Wheeler. The score remained 6-1 in favor of the Walleye after 60 minutes.
- The final shot count had Toledo on top with 38 to Iowa's 28.
- Walleye goaltender John Lethemon finished the night with 27 saves. His current high this season is 35.
- With 21 shots in the middle frame, the Walleye set a new season-high for shots in a single period. The previous number was 20 in the first period against Kalamazoo on January 6.
- With an assist on the first Walleye goal, Toledo native Gordi Myer notched his 50th pro point. He went on to pick up two more assists, making it his third multi-point game of the season.
- Mitchell Heard extended his seven-game point streak with three assists. The forward now has 12 points (4G, 8A) in his last eight games.
- Trenton Bliss extended his eight-game point streak, the longest for a Walleye skater this season, with an assist. He now has 13 points (4G, 9A) in his last nine games.
- Charlie Curti (1G, 2A), Gordie Green (1A), and Thomas Ebbing (1G) all extended their three-game point streaks. Curti, the defenseman who joined Toledo earlier this month, now has six points (3G, 3A) in his last four games. Green also has six points (3G, 3A) in his last four games, while Ebbing has four (2G, 2A).
- With a single helper tonight, defenseman Donovan Sebrango has picked up four points, all in the form of assists, in his last three games.
- Defenseman Riley McCourt now has four points (2G, 2A) in his last two games with two goals tonight.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
1) TOL - R. McCourt (2G)
2) TOL - C. Curti (1G, 2A)
3) TOL - G. Myer (3A)
The Walleye and the Heartlanders will play their second of the three-game road series tomorrow at 8:05 p.m.