TOLEDO, OHIO - With their 4-1 victory over Cincinnati at home tonight, the Walleye jumped two points closer to stealing the first place Central Division title from the Cyclones. Andrew Sturtz (1G, 1A) and Sebastian Cossa (33 SVS) were key performers in the win.
It was a battle at the Huntington Center tonight as the Cincinnati Cyclones came to town for Toledo's one and only game this week. Heading into the night, the Walleye held a record of 4-4-2 against the Cyclones this season. Only six points separated the first-place Cyclones and second-place Walleye in the Central Division standings.
Toledo came out hungry, generating several scoring opportunities early on in the opening period. Just 1:21 in, Gordie Green tipped Charlie Curti's blue line shot right past Cincinnati netminder Beck Warm for the 1-0 lead. Brandon Hawkins picked up the second assist on Green's marker. At the 5:48 mark, Jalen Smereck headed to the Cyclones box with a slashing penalty. Cincinnati picked up the pressure in the latter half of the period, but Sebastian Cossa picked up one stellar save after another. Toledo led in the shots department, 6-5, after 20 minutes of play.
Just over three minutes into the second period, Andrew Sturtz picked up the first Toledo penalty for slashing. Immediately after exiting the box, the forward picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and headed for the Cincinnati net unaccompanied. The breakaway finish, assisted by Thomas Ebbing, put the Walleye up by two at the 5:15 mark. With 22 seconds remaining in the period, Sam Craggs followed up on a failed Cincinnati clearance attempt and finished to make it 3-0. Walleye captain John Albert and Andrew Sturtz registered the assists. At the conclusion of the period, Cincinnati's Sean Allen was handed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor to put Toledo on the power play to start the third. The Cyclones held the 19-17 shots advantage after 40 minutes.
With 2:13 gone in the third period, Toledo's Charlie Curti and Cincinnati's Zach Berzolla got into it behind the Cyclones net, both of them winding up with double roughing minors. Just 46 seconds later, Jon McDonald joined Curti in the Toledo box with a high-sticking penalty. Cincinnati would end up getting on the board at 5:21 thanks to an unassisted goal by former Walleye Matt Berry. Midway through the seventh minute, Matt Berry sent Toledo defenseman Gordi Myer to the ice after sending him into the glass. Following the whistle, Andrew Sturtz and Patrick Polino got tangled up. With roughing minors going to both men and a high-sticking penalty to Berry, Toledo went on the power play. 47 seconds later, TJ Hensick notched the final Walleye goal with a rebound on Brandon Hawkins' deflected shot. Defenseman Derek Daschke picked up the second assist on the power play goal.
At the 11:11 mark, Brandon Hawkins headed to the Toledo box with a hooking minor. Seconds after the penalty expired, Sam Craggs and Matt Berry got tangled up, resulting in matching roughing minors. With only 25 seconds remaining in regulation, there was a long stoppage in play that resulted in a total of seven penalties. For Toledo, it was a roughing minor to Jake Willets and a fighting major to Patrick McGrath. For Cincinnati, it was a roughing minor and game misconduct to Sean Allen, a misconduct to Zach Berzolla, a fighting major to Cody Caron, and a game misconduct to Justin Vaive. At the end of regulation, Toledo came away with the 4-1 victory despite being outshot 34-28.
- The sellout crowd of 7,925 tonight at the Huntington Center made for Toledo's 13th straight, a new franchise record.
- After being named the ECHL Goaltender of the Month for March, Sebastian Cossa put on a performance tonight, saving 33 of Cincinnati's 34 shots.
- With his power play goal tonight, TJ Hensick now rides a three-game point streak. His first two goals since making his return along with two assists make up the four points he has secured in his last three appearances for Toledo.
- Gordie Green's first period goal extended his point streak to three games. The forward has totaled four points (1G, 3A) in those contests.
- Andrew Sturtz came away with the game-winning goal and an assist to bring his point total this season to 25 (15G, 10A).
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
1) TOL - A. Sturtz (1G, 1A)
2) TOL - S. Cossa (33 SVS)
3) TOL - S. Craggs (1G)
With no more games on Toledo's schedule this weekend, the Walleye will get back on the road for the final time in the regular season on Friday. Puck drop in Kalamazoo is set for 7:15 p.m.