January 3, 2019
Walleye score three power play goals to rout Nailers
WHEELING, W. Va. – A near-perfect performance on the man advantage helped the Toledo Walleye overcome a sluggish start and rout the Wheeling Nailers by a 6-2 count on Thursday at WesBanco Arena.
The Walleye (22-7-3-0) finished 3-for-4 on the power play, using goals from Greg Wolfe, Shane Berschbach and T.J. Hensick to move within a point of Cincinnati in the Western Conference standings. Hensick gained sole possession of the ECHL scoring lead with two goals and an assist, while Matt Register and Wolfe each notched a goal and two helpers. Kaden Fulcher turned away 33-of-35 shots to collect second-star honors and improve his record to 10-2-2.
Toledo was outshot 13-4 in the opening period, but drew first blood courtesy of Wolfe’s power play marker 6:03 into the contest. Hensick gained the zone on the right wing and fed a pass to a trailing Wolfe in the high slot for a wrist shot off the right post and in for his 12th goal of the campaign.
Wheeling (16-14-2-0) knotted the score when Renars Krastenbergs deflected Aaron Titcomb’s wrist shot from the right point with 1:19 gone in the second, but the Walleye reclaimed the lead near the midway point of the frame. Fresh from serving a hooking minor, Register took a stretch pass from Justin Kea at the Wheeling blue line and buried his breakaway attempt inside the left post at the 9:04 mark.
The visitors doubled their margin on the power play with 6:57 to go in the middle stanza, as Berschbach tallied his team-best 15th goal of the season when he skated through the slot and redirected Ryan Obuchowski’s point shot inside the left post. In all, 10 of Berschbach’s 15 goals have come on the man advantage.
Connor Schmidt was assessed a major and a game misconduct for boarding 3:49 into the third, but Wheeling’s lengthy power play was interrupted when Zac Lynch was whistled for interference 32 seconds later. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Jordan Topping gained the zone on the right wing and worked his way down low before flipping a shot into the top right corner at 5:52 to give the Walleye a commanding 4-1 lead.
Toledo continued to pull away with its third power play goal of the night at the 8:57 mark. While John Muse was on his back following a collision on the edge of the Wheeling crease, Hensick gathered a loose puck in the slot and fired a wrister into the top right corner.
Troy Josephs added a power play goal for Wheeling with 8:43 left in the third, but Hensick was credited with an empty-netter to restore Toledo’s four-goal cushion with 2:10 remaining.
The Nailers finished 1-for-5 on the man advantage. Muse stopped 16-of-21 shots in a losing effort.
The Walleye return to the Huntington Center on Friday and Saturday to host the Kalamazoo Wings and Wheeling Nailers, respectively. Both contests start at 7:15 p.m.
1. Toledo – Matt Register (goal, two assists)
2. Toledo – Kaden Fulcher (W, 33 saves)
3. Wheeling – Troy Josephs (power play goal)
• With his power play goal in the second period, Berschbach became the first ECHL skater to reach the 40-point mark this season.
• Toledo is 3-1 against Wheeling in the regular season series, with the road team winning all four meetings thus far.
• Sean Federow and Joe McKeown made their ECHL debuts in Thursday’s game.
• The Walleye are 20-0-1 when scoring three or more goals this season, and a perfect 9-0 when scoring six or more goals.