TOLEDO, OH - Four power play goals and several crucial penalty kills highlighted Toledo's 4-1 win over Indy in game one of the Central Division semifinals tonight.
The second-seeded Toledo Walleye kicked off the first round of the 2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs on home ice against the third-seeded Indy Fuel tonight. After six matchups in the regular season, the Walleye dominated to finish with a 5-1-0 record over the Fuel along with a seven-point lead in the Central Division standings.
Toledo was hot right out of the gates, outshooting the Fuel 7-0 in the opening nine minutes of play. After Indy's Chase Lang headed to the box with a high-sticking penalty at 7:11, Toledo went on their first power play of the night. With 16 ticks remaining on the man advantage, Seth Barton secured the first Walleye playoff goal with a shot from the top of the right circle. Charlie Curti and TJ Hensick were the assisters on the power play goal. Not long after Barton's marker, Indy went back on the penalty kill as Alex Wideman picked up a holding minor. Five minutes later, the first Toledo penalty came against Donovan Sebrango for high-sticking. Less than a minute into the Indy power play, Colin Bilek got the Fuel on the board to make it a tie game. Zach Vinnell picked up the third Indy power play at 16:05 for hooking, but the period concluded with a 1-1 tie. In the opening 20 minutes of play, Toledo more than doubled Indy's five shots with 12.
Despite a 7-5 edge in shots for Toledo in the second period, the 1-1 tie remained after 40 minutes of play. With less than two minutes gone in the middle period, Walleye defenseman Charlie Curti and Fuel forward Colin Bilek received matching roughing minors following a toss-up at the Toledo blue line. At 5:07, Gordi Myer put Indy on the power play with a tripping penalty, but the Walleye penalty kill held its own.
The third period was action-packed with three Toledo goals and many penalties. The first went to Colin Bilek for high-sticking at the 5:14 mark. Gordie Green scored the first of three unanswered power play goals 20 seconds later with the help of Trenton Bliss and Kirill Tyutyayev. Just over two minutes later, the whistle sounded as players dogpiled each other in the Indy zone. The Walleye went on the power play after a handful of roughing penalties were assigned, two to Toledo and two to Indy. The difference was a double roughing minor to Indy's Chase Lang. Less than two minutes later, Brandon Hawkins went bar-down to make it 3-1 in favor of Toledo. Kirill Tyutyayev and Trenton Bliss both picked up their second assists of the night on the power play goal.
The Toledo penalty kill unit was tested twice in under three minutes after an interference minor to Tyutyayev at 12:47 and a delay of game penalty to TJ Hensick at 15:08. With two more penalty kills under their belt, the Walleye went on another power play at the 18:32 mark after Indy's Seamus Malone sent Trenton Bliss to the ice with a cross-check. Just 17 seconds later, Bliss called the game with Toledo's fourth and final power play goal. Indy immediately retaliated, resulting in a roughing minor to Ross MacDougall, a double roughing minor to Chase Lang, and a misconduct to Andrew Bellant. Brandon Hawkins came away with a single roughing minor. At the end of three periods, Toledo had dominated in all areas, outshooting Indy by a count of 32-19.
- After finishing the regular season with a new franchise record of 15 consecutive sellouts, Toledo made it 16 straight tonight with a crowd of 8,033 for game one of the opening playoff round.
- Trenton Bliss led the Walleye in scoring tonight with three points (1G, 2A). Brandon Hawkins (1G, 1A) and Kirill Tyutyayev (2A) each picked up a pair of points as well.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
1) TOL - G. Green (1G)
2) TOL - S. Barton (1G)
3) TOL - T. Bliss (1G, 2A)
Toledo will be right back at home tomorrow, April 22, to host Indy for game two of the Central Division semifinals at 7:15 p.m.