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Gazzola Nets Game-Winner as Walleye Beat Fuel in Overtime

November 26, 2021 - ECHL (ECHL) - Toledo Walleye News Release

TOLEDO, Ohio - The Toledo Walleye came out on top of a back-and-forth matchup with the Indy Fuel Friday night, earning the 4-3 victory for their second overtime win in two days.

Randy Gazzola was the hero in tonight's contest, finding the back of the net with 4:27 remaining in overtime to give the Walleye their second straight win. Toledo has won four straight games in the Huntington Center dating back to a 7-4 victory over the Fuel on Nov. 14.

The Walleye and Fuel played the first frame without netting a goal. Indy edged out Toledo in the period with 11 shots to the Walleye's nine while each team had one power play opportunity in the frame. Indy picked up the man advantage with 12:55 gone on a Josh Dickinson hooking minor, and Riley McKay's charging penalty gave Toledo a chance on the power play at 17:09. Neither team converted on their opportunities, and the game remained scoreless after the opening frame.

The second 20 minutes were eventful, with the Walleye and Fuel combining for four goals and three penalties, including two stemming from a fight. Indy earned the first goal of the contest 6:17 into the frame when Tommy Apap and Cliff Watson assisted Mike Lee on an equal strength goal. Just under a minute later, an altercation between Apap and Cole Fraser turned into a fight at center ice, sending both players to the penalty box for five minutes.

Toledo evened the score at one apiece on a Keeghan Howdeshell goal with 8:33 gone. Austin McIlmurray assisted on Howdeshell's third score of the season, an equal strength goal. Exactly five minutes later, TJ Hensick added to his ECHL-leading goals total with his 12th score of the season, putting the Walleye up, 2-1. Josh Dickinson and Gordi Myer earned the assists.

Indy's Riley McKay picked up a slashing minor at 16:06, giving Toledo a power play opportunity. The Fuel earned a successful penalty kill before evening the score with 18 seconds left in the period on a Jared Thomas goal. The Walleye dominated the shooting with 20 shots to Indy's five in the second frame, but the result was an even 2-2 score heading into the final intermission.

Ending the period in a tie became a recurring theme through the end of regulation as the Fuel and Walleye each netted a goal to remain even in the third period. Indy picked up a penalty at 2:53 and prevented Toledo from scoring before Indy's C.J. Eick found the back of the net with 7:39 gone, giving the Fuel the 3-2 lead on assists from Tommy Apap and Riley McKay.

Matt Berry received a hooking penalty at 10:15, and Randy Gazzola joined him in the penalty box just under a minute later for a delay of game, leaving the Walleye with three skaters on the ice. The Fish successfully prevented Indy from netting a goal during the power play, making it back to full strength unscathed.

Indy and Toledo fought for a second time with 3:40 remaining in regulation. Four players were handed penalties, resulting in another Walleye power play opportunity. Indy's Ryan Zuhlsdorf received a roughing double minor while teammate Cédric Lacroix picked up two minutes in the penalty box for roughing. Butrus Ghafari and TJ Hensick were each handed minors - Ghafari for roughing and Hensick for cross-checking. The fight proved consequential for the Fuel as the Walleye tied the game 38 seconds later on Matt Berry's ninth goal of the year. Keeghan Howdeshell and Josh Dickinson assisted on the score, and the Walleye and Fuel ended regulation tied at three goals each.

The Walleye played three-on-three overtime for the second time in as many nights. In Thursday night's contest with Fort Wayne, the Fish needed 6:51 to net the game-winner. Tonight, they needed just 2:33, with Randy Gazzola sending Walleye fans home happy on a game-winning shot in the sudden death period. TJ Hensick and Josh Dickinson dished the assists, for their second and third points of the night, respectively. Gazzola's goal was his first of the season.

Toledo outshot Indy, 37-32, in the overtime victory. The Walleye went 1-for-4 on the power play while the Fuel failed to score on three opportunities.

Billy Christopoulos picked up his fourth straight win in net for the Walleye, moving to 6-2-0 on the season. He saved 29-of-32 shots in 62:33 of play. Cale Morris recorded the loss for the Fuel, saving 33-of-37 shots faced.

What's Next:

The Walleye have seven days off before completing their three-game homestand next weekend at the Huntington Center. Toledo will face the Wheeling Nailers for the second time this season on Saturday, Dec. 4, for Elf Night. Puck drop is set for 7:15 p.m.

Three Stars:

Toledo - Randy Gazzola (game-winning goal)

Toledo - Keeghan Howdeshell (power play goal, assist)

Indy - C.J. Eick (goal)

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