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Walleye win back-and-forth duel over Fuel

TOLEDO, OhioDylan Sadowy’s goal with 14:12 left in regulation proved to be the game-winner as the Toledo Walleye won a back-and-forth encounter over the Indy Fuel by a 5-4 count on Saturday before a capacity crowd of 8,300 at the Huntington Center.

Three times, the Walleye (28-11-4-3) trailed by a goal during the opening two periods. And three times, the Walleye battled back to even the score before Marcus Crawford added a power play tally to give Toledo a 4-3 edge with 3:54 left in the second stanza. Quentin Shore responded with a power play tally of his own to knot the score at 4-4 with 1:05 left in the same frame, but Sadowy’s third-period tally condemned Indy (23-22-2-1) to its third consecutive defeat.

Pat Nagle turned away 31-of-35 shots as the Walleye improved to 5-1-1-1 following the penultimate matchup of their season-long, nine-game home stand. The result, combined with Cincinnati’s 4-3 loss at Manchester, leaves Toledo five points behind the Cyclones in the Western Conference standings.

Toledo hit a pair of goalposts in the early stages, and thought it had captured a 1-0 lead with 8:03 gone in the first frame. After his initial effort in close was blocked by Gordon Defiel, Sadowy used his glove to swat the rebound out of mid-air and into the open cage. The potential goal was instantly waved off by referee Matt Menniti, whose call was upheld following a lengthy review.

Josh Shalla broke the deadlock for Indy near the halfway point of the opening period. Radovan Bondra gathered a loose puck at the left goal line and set up Shalla at the top of the left circle for a one-timer into the top right corner at the 9:43 mark. 

The Walleye managed to restore parity later in the frame courtesy of Matt Register’s shorthanded tally at 19:28. Tyler Spezia circled behind the net before centering the puck to Register in the slot for a wrister inside the left post. 

Indy needed just 28 seconds to jump back in front with a power play marker. Ryan Rupert chipped a pass toward the slot to Logan Nelson, who tucked a shot through Nagle’s five-hole to stake Indy to a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

Toledo fashioned another equalizer 31 ticks into the middle period, as an A.J. Jenks wrist shot from the right point was redirected in front by Brenden Kotyk and into the top left corner for the latter's first goal since Oct. 24 at Cincinnati.

The Fuel reclaimed their one-goal advantage at 5:11 of the second when Nelson sent a no-look feed to Matheson Iacopelli at the right goal line for a sharp-angle attempt that caught Toledo’s defense off-guard.

The Walleye potted two unanswered goals later in the period to build their first lead of the contest. On an eventual 2-on-1, Hunter Smith set up Charlie O’Connor in front for a simple tap-in at 12:45 to knot the score at three apiece. Crawford eventually became the third Toledo defenseman to light the lamp, netting the club’s lone power play goal of the night on a slapshot from the point that nestled inside the right post at the 16:06 mark. 

Indy replied with a power play goal of its own moments later, as Shore lifted a wrist shot from the right circle past Nagle’s blocker at 18:55 to even the game at 4-4.

Denied the opening goal in the first frame, Sadowy wrapped up the scoring 5:48 into the third. T.J. Hensick chased down a loose puck below the left goal line and centered a pass to Sadowy at the left circle for a one-timer into the top right corner. The Walleye outshot the Fuel 15-2 to open the final stanza and neutralized a late comeback bid to capture their third straight victory over Indy. In all, Toledo has earned points in four of five meetings with the Fuel this season (3-1-1-0). 

Toledo finished 1-of-3 on the power play, while Indy converted on 2-of-3 opportunities. Defiel stopped 26-of-31 in a losing cause.

What’s Next:
The Walleye conclude their season-long, nine-game home stand on Sunday with a 5:15 p.m. puck drop against the Indy Fuel.

Three Stars:
1. Toledo – Dylan Sadowy (game-winning goal)
2. Toledo – Marcus Crawford (power play goal, assist)
3. Toledo – Brenden Kotyk (goal, assist)

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