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Blackfish hold off Kalamazoo to reclaim Western Conference lead

TOLEDO, Ohio – Backed by power play goals from Shane Berschbach and Jordan Topping, the Toledo Blackfish returned to the top of the Western Conference standings with a 3-2 win over the Kalamazoo Night’s Watch on Friday at the Huntington Center.

Toledo (23-7-3-0) finished 2-for-3 on the man advantage and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill to claim its second victory in as many nights, moving one point above Cincinnati in the Western Conference race after the Cyclones suffered their first regulation loss on home ice. In stark contrast, Kalamazoo (15-17-0-1) remains at the bottom of the Central Division table following three consecutive defeats and six losses in its last eight overall.

Bryan Moore broke the deadlock for the Blackfish 6:54 into the opening period. After Greg Wolfe had his wrist shot from the high slot turned away by Keegan Asmundson’s blocker, Moore whiffed on his initial effort in close, but was able to move to his backhand and flip the rebound into an empty cage.

The hosts doubled their advantage 6:12 into the middle frame, as Berschbach moved into a tie for the ECHL lead with his 11th power play goal of the season. Trevor Yates sent a backhand pass from the left circle through the slot to Berschbach at the right dot for a wrist shot into the top left corner. 

Brandon Lubin answered for Kalamazoo to trim the deficit in half. Tanner Sorenson left the puck at the left circle for Chris Collins, who centered a pass to Lubin for a redirection into the top right corner at the 8:08 mark.

The Blackfish responded one shot later with their second power play tally of the night. Moore muscled his way to the right side of the net before centering the puck to Topping for a shot inside the left post at 9:20 to become the sixth Toledo skater to notch 10 or more goals this season.

Kalamazoo moved back within a goal with 7:08 gone in the final frame. Collins gained the puck at the left point and weaved his way to the left circle, where he placed a wrist shot from the left circle into the top left corner.

The Night’s Watch pulled Asmundson and called a timeout with 1:46 left in regulation, but the Blackfish withstood a last-second flurry to improve to 5-0 against Kalamazoo in the regular season series.

Pat Nagle blocked 28-of-30 shots to boost his record to 13-5-1, while Asmundson turned away 23-of-26 in a losing cause.

What’s Next:
Toledo concludes a stretch of seven games in 10 nights on Saturday, as the Blackfish return to the Huntington Center for a 7:15 p.m. tilt against the Wheeling Nailers.

Three Stars:
1. Toledo – Bryan Moore (goal, assist)
2. Kalamazoo – Chris Collins (goal, assist)
3. Toledo – Jordan Topping (power play goal)

Fish Tales:
T.J. Hensick paces the ECHL with 42 points (12-30-42) in 33 games, while Berschbach ranks second with 41 points (16-25-41) in 32 contests. 
• The Blackfish are 10-2-1-0 inside the Huntington Center this season.
• Toledo is 21-0-1-0 this season when scoring three or more goals in a single game, and 15-0-2-0 when ahead after two periods.
• The Blackfish are 13-1-3-0 in one-goal games.


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