TOLEDO – The Toledo Walleye defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 7-4 on Saturday night at the Huntington Center in a thrilling comeback victory.
The Toledo Walleye welcomed the Fort Wayne Komets into the Huntington Center for the first time in the 2023-24 season in the midst of a three-game weekend between the two teams.
Jan Bednar would make his third start of the season in the net. Riley McCourt and Grant Gabriele would be the starting defense, with Brandon Hawkins, Trenton Bliss and Orrin Centazzo manning the attack.
Francois Brassard would start between the pipes for the Komets. Darien Kielb and Martin Has would lead the defense with Jack Dugan, Nolan Volcan and Matt Wedman on the attack.
As they did Friday night, Fort Wayne got on the board right away as Wedman found the net in the middle of a crowd with some help from Volcan at 1:04 for a quick 1-0 Komet lead.
The Komets would continue their replay of Friday night as they scored again at 7:21, this time being Shawn Szydlowski with the score and Alexis D’Aoust with the assist to make it 2-0 for Fort Wayne.
Ture Linden would be assessed the first penalty of the game for Fort Wayne at 11:47 for High-Sticking, giving the Walleye their first power play chance which they could not convert.
Linden would find himself back in the box at 15:59 for Delay of Game, giving the Walleye their second man-advantage of the night.
The Walleye would immediately score, also at 15:59 off of the faceoff as Will Cullen lasered a pass from Colin Theisen into the net, making it 2-1 Fort Wayne, and also converted the power play.
The Komets would immediately strike back for two more, as Volcan broke loose on the backside of the net for a score at 16:14 with some help from Dugan and Kielb. Then it was Dugan at 16:53 off of a faceoff pass from Wedman. The Komets stretched the lead to 4-1.
The Komet goals would wrap the action in the first 20. Toledo outshot Fort Wayne 13-9 in the period, and the Fish were 1/2 on the power play while the Komets did not have an opportunity.
The first action in the second period would be a Fort Wayne penalty, as Wedman was assessed a Holding minor at 6:50.
The power play would however be short lived as Kirill Tyutyayev would be sent to the Toledo penalty box at 7:05 for Holding, meaning the next 1:45 would be four-on-four hockey. Neither team would convert their power play chance in the chaos.
Hawkins would be sent to the Toledo box at 10:30 for Delay of Game, giving the Komets their second power play opportunity, which they did not convert.
Centazzo would be sent to the box at 15:30 for Cross-Checking, giving Fort Wayne their third power play.
The red-hot Sam Craggs would find the net for a shorthanded goal at 16:28 after Brassard came out too far and Keenan found Craggs for the score, making it 4-2 Fort Wayne.
Jake Willets would be the next Fish to be penalized as he was assessed a High-Sticking penalty at 18:33, giving Fort Wayne a power play that would carry over into the third period.
Craggs would break loose again for yet another shorthanded goal, this time unassisted, bringing the Walleye within one at a 4-3 score at 19:07.
That would close the action from the second set of 20. The Walleye outshot the Komets 10-7 in the period and 24-16 cumulatively. Toledo was 0/1 on the power play in the period, while Fort Wayne was 0/3 on completed power plays.
The Komets were unable to convert the carried-over power play.
The Komets once again were handed the first penalty of the frame as Xavier Bernard was sent to the box for High-Sticking at 1:11. The Walleye were unable to convert the power play.
The Walleye would shortly return to the power play at 4:00 when Logan Dowhaniuk was sent to the Fort Wayne penalty box for Interference.
Chase Gresock would send a rebound into the back of the net to knot it back up at 4-4 at 5:45 to convert the power play. Theisen and Brandon Kruse were the helping-hands on the equalizer.
The Komets would get their fifth man-advantage of the evening at 6:04 when Matt Anderson was sent to the box for Tripping.
The Komets would have their power play extended when McCourt would be sent to the box at 7:55 for Cross-Checking, meaning there would be :09 of five-on-three hockey.
The Walleye would successfully kill off both penalties, proving why the Toledo penalty kill unit is one of the ECHL’s best.
Theisen would be sent to the box next for Toledo at 12:13 for Tripping, but the Komets were yet again unable to convert the man-advantage.
After just narrowly avoiding an offside call, Hawkins would snipe the go-ahead goal off of a pass from Kruse to put the Walleye in front 5-4 at 15:37.
Hawkins would find paydirt again at 18:12 on an empty-netter with assists from Adrien Beraldo and Bednar (Yes you read that correctly) to extend the Walleye lead to 6-4.
Just :17 later at 18:29, Keenan scored a goal of his own with help from Gabriele and Mitch Lewandowski to stretch the lead to 7-4 Toledo.
Dugan and Cullen would get into it at 19:07, each collecting two-minute minors and ten-minute game misconducts. Dugan was penalized for Cross-Checking, while Cullen was assessed a Roughing minor.
The game would finish with four-on-four hockey.
The horns sounded with the Walleye claiming victory yet again, scoring six unanswered goals after trailing 4-1 in their fifth consecutive victory.
The Walleye outshot the Komets 15-8 in the third 20 and 39-24 overall. Toledo was 1/2 on the power play in the period and 2/5 overall, while Fort Wayne was 0/4 with a man-advantage in the final frame and 0/7 overall.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
- Brandon Hawkins (2G) – TOL
- Sam Craggs (2G) – TOL
- Jan Bednar (W, 20/24 SV) – TOL
The Toledo Walleye will remain at home to close out the three game weekend with the Fort Wayne Komets tomorrow, November 12, 2023 when the Walleye will hold Non-Profit night, with puck drop at 5:15 pm ET at the Huntington Center.