TOLEDO – The Toledo Walleye defeated the Reading Royals 5-2 on Friday night at the Huntington Center.
The Toledo Walleye played host to the Reading Royals to open the home slate of the 2023-24 season.
John Lethemon would start between the pipes, with Riley McCourt and Grant Gabriele manning the defense. Brandon Hawkins, Trenton Bliss and Orrin Centazzo would start on the attack for Toledo.
Nolan Maier would protect the net for the Royals, with Tyler Heidt and Mike Chen on the defense. Yvan Mongo, Austin Master and former Walleye Joseph Nardi would man the Reading attack.
The Royals got rolling right away as Ryan Chyzowski slipped one past Lethemon at :57 to put Reading up 1-0. Matt Brown picked up a solo assist on the score.
A very physical start would roll on until 6:50 when Brown was assessed a Boarding minor, giving the Walleye their first home power play of the season.
The Walleye knotted the game at 1-1 at 8:04 when Chase Gresock sniped a faceoff pass from Alexandre Doucet to convert their first home power play of the season.
The Walleye penalty kill unit would get their first home test after Kirill Tyutyayev was sent to the box with a Hooking minor at 8:59. The Walleye penalty kill unit entered the contest a perfect 8-8 on the penalty kill. Toledo would get penalized for Too many men at 10:36, sending Hawkins to the box to serve the minor penalty.
After successfully killing off both penalties, Hawkins would come out of the box and clank one off the post and into the goal to put the Fish in front at 12:59. Centazzo and Bliss would collect assists on the score.
Hawkins would strike again at 15:40 for his second goal of the night, again with help from Centazzo and Bliss to put the Walleye up 3-1.
The Fish would tack on at 17:54 as this time Tyutyayev lasered one into the net, growing the lead to 4-1. Colin Theisen and McCourt tallied assists for their first points of the evening.
As tensions continued to rise, Hawkins would be sent to the box for Unsportsmanlike conduct at 18:36, meaning the period would close with Reading on the power play. Just 55 seconds later at 19:31, Sam Craggs and former Walleye, now Royal Devon Paliani would be sent to their respective boxes, Craggs for Roughing and Paliani for Cross-Checking.
At the close of the first period, McCourt would get sent to the box for High-sticking, meaning the Royals would start the second frame with :36 of five-on-three hockey.
The period would wrap with the Walleye ahead of the Royals 4-1. Toledo outshot Reading in the period 11-6. The Walleye would convert their lone power play opportunity, while Reading would temporarily be 0/4 in the period with a man-advantage.
The second period would start with the Royals converting the power play that carried over at :28. Alec Butcher scored the first power play goal against the Walleye this season, with assists from Brown and Adam Brubacher.
Reading would be assessed the first penalty of the second period at 3:53 when Dilan Peters was sent to the box for Holding.
A large chunk of the period would be fairly quiet until 17:40 when Brandon Kruse was sent to the box for Tripping. That would mean Reading would be on the power play for nearly the remainder of the period.
The Walleye penalty kill unit would fend off the power play and end the second period with a 4-2 lead.
Toledo outshot Reading 11-7 in the period, and 22-13 overall after two frames. The Walleye could not convert their lone power play of the period, while Reading was 1/2 in the period, converting a power play that carried over from the first period.
The third period would begin with each team going back-and-forth. At 5:51, Chyzowski was sent to the box for High-sticking to start the action, which meant the Walleye would have their third power play of the evening.
The Reading penalty kill unit were able to fend off the Toledo power play, keeping the score at 4-2.
After nearly 35 scoreless minutes, Kruse lit the lamp with help from Mitch Lewandowski and Craggs, making it 5-2 Walleye.
That goal would put a bow on a spectacular 5-2 home-opening victory for the Walleye, as the horns sounded with the Fish on top.
Toledo outshot Reading 14-2 in the third period and 36-16 overall. The Walleye were 1/3 on the power play, while the Royals were 1/5 on the night.
Three Stars Sponsored by Local 245:
- Brandon Hawkins (2G) - TOL
- Chase Gresock (1G) - TOL
- Orrin Centazzo (2A) - TOL
The Walleye will remain in Toledo to finish out Opening Weekend tomorrow, November 4, when the Indy Fuel come to the Huntington Center, with puck drop at 7:15 p.m. ET.