TOLEDO, OH - With a dominating 9-2 win over Cincinnati, the Walleye claimed the Central Division playoff title while setting a new franchise record for goals scored in a postseason game.
Just over two weeks ago, the Walleye were in a similar situation when they entered the night with a 3-0 series lead and a sweep on the line. To continue the trend set in their previous seven postseason games, the Walleye got the first goal at 1:54 of the opening period tonight as Andrew Sturtz deflected a pass from Brett McKenzie into the Cincinnati net. Toledo was quick to add another with Gordie Green getting a tip on Charlie Curti's blue line shot to make it 2-0 with 5:37 gone.
Cincinnati's Zack Andrusiak picked up the first penalty of the night for cross-checking at 7:19. Despite no goal coming on the man advantage, Brandon Hawkins added Toledo's third from the blue line at 17:02. After a hooking penalty to Trenton Bliss at 19:46, Toledo headed into the second period on a penalty kill.
With 14 seconds left on the Walleye power play, Andrew Sturtz opened up the middle period with a shorthanded breakaway goal to extend the Toledo lead to four. The Cyclones picked up two penalties in the following minutes, both to Andrew Neilsen. Late in the 10th minute, Lincoln Griffin got Cincinnati on the board, but a penalty to Lee Lapid put gave Toledo the man advantage. Kirill Tyutyayev restored Toledo's four-goal lead 15 seconds later with the help of Gordie Green and Seth Barton.
A scuffle in front of the Toledo net shortly after Tyutyayev's marker put the Walleye back on the power play. With the puck in the right circle, TJ Hensick blasted it past Beck Warm to make it 6-1 at 14:48. Riley McCourt registered the lone assist on Hensick's tally. Back on the power play 40 seconds later, Drew Worrad made it 7-1 as he sent the puck through the five-hole of Beck Warm. Andrew Sturtz picked up a hooking penalty at 17:26, but Toledo's six-goal lead stuck to the end of the middle frame.
Halfway through the fourth minute of the final period, Gordie Green grabbed his second goal of the night with the help of Trenton Bliss and Charli Curti. Brett McKenzie capped Toledo's scoring at nine with a one-timer from Thomas Ebbing at the 11:36 mark. The Cyclones responded less than a minute later with a goal from James Hardie to make it 9-2. To finish off the night's penalties, Cincinnati defenseman Sean Allen picked up a roughing minor and a misconduct at 13:45. The Walleye took the final edge in shots with a count of 37 to Cincinnati's 25.
- After leading the league in first goals in the regular season, Toledo has done the same in the postseason with the first goal in each of their eight games.
- Toledo reached their 19th consecutive sellout with a paid figure of 8,300 tonight.
- The Walleye set a new single-game record of goals scored in a postseason game with nine. The previous record was seven goals scored against Charlotte on April 6, 2010.
- Toledo is the first team since 2011 to open the postseason with eight consecutive wins.
- This is the third consecutive season that the Walleye have reached the Western Conference Finals.
- Kirill Tyutyayev extended his point streak to six games with a power play goal in the second period. The rookie forward has picked up at least a point in all but one of Toledo's eight postseason games to total 11 (3G, 8A).
- Drew Worrad (1G), TJ Hensick (1G), and Charlie Curti (2A) all extended their point streaks to three games tonight.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
1) TOL - A. Sturtz (2G, 1A)
2) TOL - G. Green (2G, 2A)
3) B. McKenzie (1G, 2A)
Toledo is headed to the Western Conference Finals where they will face the winner of the Idaho-Allen series. The Steelheads currently lead it two games to none.