Walleye Hold Serve at Home in First Two Games
TOLEDO, OH- The Toledo Walleye held serve on their home ice in the first two games of the Central Division Final Series, as the scene will shift to Wheeling in the coming week. Brandon Hawkins snapped a second-period deadlock with a controversial goal, and the Walleye followed that up with three more, as recorded a 5-2 win for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Matt Alfaro scored in his return to the Nailers and was joined in the goal column by Justin Almeida.
Matt Alfaro returned to the Nailers earlier in the day, and he only needed one minute to make his presence felt. Tyler Drevitch wound his way to the top of the offensive zone, before turning a shot on goal. Billy Christopoulos made the save but left the rebound in front of him, where it was poked home by Alfaro.
Toledo tied the score at the 5:23 mark of the middle frame on a man advantage. Randy Gazzola swung a pass over to Brandon Hawkins, who launched in a one-timer from the left circle. With 5:11 remaining, the game took a drastic turn. John Albert's shot from the right circle was stopped by Louis-Philip Guindon, but the rebound was deposited in by Hawkins from the slot. However, there was contact in the crease between Guindon and Walleye forward Brett McKenzie, which could have led to the marker being disallowed. Unfortunately, after a lengthy review, the goal was confirmed. That gave Toledo a mighty boost. 59 seconds later, Cam Clarke drove into the slot and feathered a backhander off of a body and in on the right side of the net. The Walleye then added to their lead on a power play, as TJ Hensick banked in a shot from the right side of the trapezoid.
Wheeling got aggressive in the early stages of the third period, as it pulled the goaltender during a 4-on-4 sequence. That didn't produce the intended result, as Brett McKenzie recorded an empty netter for the Walleye. Justin Almeida got one goal back for the Nailers when he stole the puck at the blue line and broke in alone to cash in on his backhand. That was the final marker in a 5-2 Toledo triumph.