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Fast start lifts Walleye to victory over Fuel

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye rode a hot start to remain perfect within the friendly confines of the Huntington Center, earning their sixth consecutive victory on home ice with a 4-2 result over the Indy Fuel on Saturday before a sold-out crowd of 8,311.

Winners in 13 of their last 16 overall, the Walleye (14-2-2-0) used goals from Ben Storm and Charlie O’Connor in the opening 2:05 to race ahead to an early 2-0 lead, before Trevor Hamilton and A.J. Jenks padded Toledo’s advantage with a pair of insurance tallies. Pat Nagle recorded his ninth win of the season, turning away 27 shots to collect second-star honors.

The capacity crowd needed just 43 seconds to shower the ice with donations on Teddy Bear Toss Night, as Storm started the scoring with his third goal of the campaign. A T.J. Hensick faceoff win in the offensive zone funneled the puck to Matt Register at the right point for a wrist shot that was deflected in the slot by Storm past the blocker of Matt Tomkins.

O’Connor doubled the Walleye lead with just over two minutes gone in the first frame when he received a pass from Daniel Leavens in the slot and tucked a backhanded effort into the top right corner to stake the hosts to a 2-0 edge.

Despite being a man short, the Fuel (9-10-0-0) managed to trim the deficit in half at the 8:35 mark of the opening stanza. Nagle blocked Olivier Labelle’s initial breakaway attempt, but Brett Welychka raced in to fire the rebound into the top right corner.

The Walleye restored their two-goal cushion later in the period, as Hamilton netted what proved to be the game-winner at 16:44. Tyler Spezia worked his way out of the left corner and toward the Indy goal, where centered a pass to Hamilton in the slot for a one-timer inside the right post.

A fourth goal arrived a period later on Toledo’s final power play chance of the night. Positioned in the slot, Jenks redirected Register’s pass from the right point at 6:47 for his sixth goal of the year. Kevin Dufour wrapped up the scoring for the Fuel with 40 ticks left in regulation.

Toledo finished 1-for-2 on the man advantage while Indy failed to convert on two opportunities. Tomkins stopped 25-of-29 shots in a losing cause.

What’s Next:
The Walleye continue their four-game home stand on Wednesday when they host the Cincinnati Cyclones at 10:35 a.m. Toledo also welcomes the Tulsa Oilers and Wheeling Nailers to the Huntington Center on Friday and Saturday, respectively, with both games starting at 7:15 p.m.

Three Stars:
1. Toledo – Matt Register (two assists)
2. Toledo – Pat Nagle (W, 27 saves)
3. Toledo – Charlie O’Connor (goal)

Fish Tales:
• The Walleye are a perfect 9-0 when scoring four or more goals this season, and 9-0-1 when leading after two periods.
• Walleye fans donated 3,601 stuffed animals that will be given to Lucas and Wood County Children’s Services, Toledo Police and Fire, Salvation Army of Northwest Ohio, and Family House.
• Toledo is 24-3-1-1 against Indy since the latter joined the ECHL.
• Tonight’s attendance of 8,311 marks Toledo’s fifth sellout in six regular season home games.

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