TOLEDO, Ohio – Almost six months after Toledo’s disappointing divisional final lost to the Fort Wayne Komets, the Walleye returned home for the first time in their 2018-2019 campaign with a 3-2 victory.
The atmosphere not only inside the Huntington Center but in downtown Toledo was electric as the Toledo Walleye and their fans celebrated the tenth year in the franchise’s history. A record sellout crowd was in attendance of 8,363 as the Walleye took on the Komets for the second night in a row. Toledo and Fort Wayne seemed to have a lot of carryover from last season’s playoff series and the 7-3 victory for the Walleye the night before.
It was more than just hard hits as within the first two minutes Brendan Kotyk and Justin Kea dropped the gloves to set the tone early. Almost two minutes later Hunter Smith and Chase Stewart started exchanging punches as well turning the Huntington Center into a mad house. Just over seven minutes into the first and the Walleye struck first blood with a laser of shot by new addition T.J. Hensick to give Toledo the 1-0 lead. With just over a minute left in the first, Fort Wayne knotted the game at 1-1 with a J.C. Campagna power play goal and that was the score after one period.
Eighteen seconds into the second period Fort Wayne took a 2-1 lead with a Marc-Olivier Roy goal. The Walleye stayed physical which resulted in another fight involving the Komet’s Justin Kea but this time scrapping it up was Walleye defenseman Kevin Tansey. This seemed to ignite the Walleye again as just over a minute later Shane Berschbach received a beautiful feed from T.J. Hensick to tie it all up at 2-2 and that would be the score heading into the second intermission.
The Walleye and the Komets kept the fists flying as Bryan Moore and Chris Rygus got after each other early in the third period. A few minutes later Hunter Smith scored with a wrist shot on a backhanded pass from Ben Storm to take the 3-2 lead and what would be the game winning goal. The win did not come easy though as the Komets were given a penalty shot with just over three minutes to go after Brendan Kotyk shot Pat Nagle’s water bottle towards the puck. Nagle ended up stopping Justin Hodgman’s attempt but Walleye Coach Dan Watson was not happy with the call after the game.
“Rule 49, number 5, letter A, article 2, I have no clue, what a joke” said Watson during his post game interview.
Pat Nagle finished with 22 saves on 24 shots and secured his third win of the young season. Nagle’s only other start was an OT lost to the Indy Fuel.
The Walleye improve to 4-1-1 with their next game in Kalamazoo against the Kalamazoo Wings on Tuesday and it will be a 10:30 a.m. puck drop.