Playoff Record: 2-0-0, 1st Central Division, Current Streak: 2 Unbeaten
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS
April 21 vs. Indy (4-1 Win)
April 22 vs. Indy (4-2 Win)
THIS WEEK’S GAMES (All Times Eastern) (* If Necessary)
April 25 at Indy at 7:05 p.m. (6:50 p.m., Fox Sports Radio 1230)
April 27 at Indy at 7:05 p.m. (6:50 p.m., Fox Sports Radio 1230)
*April 29 vs. Indy at 7:05 p.m. (6:50 p.m., Fox Sports Radio 1230)
Leading early on: The Walleye took an early 2-0 lead over the weekend in their Central Division semifinal series against the Indy Fuel. On Friday, it was all about special teams as four power play goals and several crucial penalty kills highlighted Toledo’s 4-1 win over the Fuel at the Huntington Center. On Saturday, nine different Walleye picked up points in another win over Indy, this time by a score of 4-2. The Toledo power play was on fire once again with two of four Walleye goals coming on the man advantage. John Lethemon, the recipient of this year’s Nick Vitucci Goaltender of the Year Award, made an impressive return to the Toledo lineup with 34 saves on 36 Indy shots faced.
T-Town proud: Not only does Toledo lead the Central Division standings after the opening weekend of playoff hockey, but they also top the ECHL attendance list by a large margin. After two more sellouts on Friday and Saturday to extend the growing franchise record to 16 consecutive games, Toledo leads all teams in the 2023 Kelly Cup playoffs with an average attendance of 8,171. Jacksonville is next in line with a 6,688 average, establishing a difference of almost 1,500 between the first and second-place teams. Additionally, Toledo’s total attendance between the two games over the weekend stands at 16,341 while Jacksonville’s total sits at 13,376.
A group effort: In the process of outscoring Indy 8-3 in two games over the weekend, Toledo had a total of 12 skaters pick up points, including eight forwards and four defensemen. Currently leading the Walleye in points is Trenton Bliss with two goals and two assists. Both goals for the rookie were on a Toledo power play and Saturday’s ended up being the game-winner. Bliss currently sits fourth among the league’s playoff point-scorers, first in power play goals and points, and first among all rookies for scoring. Right behind Bliss is Brandon Hawkins with three points (1G, 2A). The forward, who led Toledo in scoring throughout the regular season with 81 points (39G, 42A) in 66 games, sits 14th on the league’s overall leaders list and third in power play points. The unstoppable goaltending tandem of Sebastian Cossa and John Lethemon was another big key to Toledo’s victories over the weekend. Saving 18 of 19 Indy shots on Friday, Cossa landed himself fourth among all ECHL goaltenders in the playoffs with a .947 save percentage. Lethemon is not far behind him, sitting in the eighth spot with a .944 save percentage.
Central Division playoff preview: Cincinnati, who finished atop the Central Division standings in the regular season, currently leads their series against Fort Wayne 2-0 after a 4-3 overtime win on Friday and a 2-1 win on Saturday. The teams play game three on Tuesday and game four on Friday, both in Fort Wayne. If the series were extended, games five, six, and seven would be played on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Back on the road: Toledo will look to put the series away early as they go on the road for games three and four on Tuesday and Thursday in Indy. If the series extends to a fifth game, that would be played on Saturday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Games six and seven would tentatively be played in Toledo on the following Monday and Tuesday.