Kalamazoo, MI – The Toledo Walleye fell 3-2 in overtime to the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday night at Wings Event Center.
The Walleye headed to Kalamazoo to take on the Wings in the 2023-24 ECHL regular season opener.
John Lethemon would get the call to defend the net in the season opener. Riley McCourt and Grant Gabriele would man the defensive line with Conlan Keenan, Kirill Tyutyayev and Mitch Lewandowski would lead the Toledo attack to start the night.
Jonathan Lemieux would start between the pipes for Kalamazoo. Derek Daschke and Connor Walters would man the defense while Joshua Passolt, Cooper Walker and Ty Glover would lead the Kalamazoo attack.
Bad blood between the two teams would carry over from the preseason as Pat McGrath and Chaz Reddekopp would exchange blows for Toledo and Kalamazoo respectively. Each were assessed five-minute majors for fighting. After two scoreless first periods during the preseason, the Fish would waste no time. Keenan would smash the puck just by Lemieux’s shoulder for the first Walleye goal of the regular season, putting the Fish up 1-0. Tyutyayev and Gabriele would each collect assists for their first points of the season. The remainder of the first period would be fairly quiet. Colin Saccoman would be sent to the Kalamazoo box with a holding minor, giving the Walleye their first power play of the season. The Walleye were unable to convert the power play, and soon after the horn would sound. The first regular season period of the year would end with Toledo being ahead 1-0. Kalamazoo outshot Toledo 13-10 in the period, and Toledo was 0/1 on power plays in the period while Kalamazoo did not have an attempt.
The second frame would begin with a Wings goal at 3:40 by Michael Joyeaux, knotting the game at 1-1. Glover and Erik Bradford would each tally assists. Daschke would be sent to the box for delay of game at 5:57, giving the Walleye their second power play of the game. Orrin Centazzo would be sent to the box at 6:34 with an interference minor, meaning it would be four-on-four for the ensuing 1:23 of play. The Wings would need just 17 seconds in four-on-four to score and take the lead. Bradford would find the net at 6:51 with help from Brad Morrison and Robert Calisti. That would wrap the action in the second frame, with Kalamazoo ahead 2-1. The Walleye outshot the Wings 10-6 in the period, and 20-19 overall through two periods. Both Toledo and Kalamazoo were 0/1 on power plays in the period.
The third period started with Luke Morgan heading to the Wings’ penalty box at 1:02 with a holding minor. The Walleye would have their third power play of the contest, but were unable to convert the man-advantage. Glover would be sent away for interference at 5:37 for another power play opportunity. After three fruitless attempts, the Walleye would convert the fourth as Alexandre Doucet tied the game at 6:58 with his first professional goal. Tyutyayev and Brandon Hawkins each tallied assists. Tyutyayev collecting his second assist and point of the game. The Wings would see a second power play chance at 11:04 after Sam Craggs was sent to the box for slashing. That would be the end of the action from the third frame, as Toledo outshot Kalamazoo 10-7 in the period and 30-26 overall. Toledo was 1/2 on power plays in the period, while Kalamazoo was 0/1.
For the third time in eight days, overtime between Toledo and Kalamazoo was underway. The Wings would need just 44 seconds to put the game winner past Lethemon, securing a 3-2 victory for the Wings. The Walleye still claimed their first point of the season as the game went to overtime.
Three Stars Presented by Local 245:
- Joshua Passolt (1G) – KAL
- Jonathan Lemieux (W, 29/31 SV) – KAL
- Erik Bradford (1G, 1A) - KAL
The Walleye will head to Fort Wayne on Friday, October 27th for game two of the season. Puck drop will be at 8:00 pm ET at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, IN.