Growlers Defeat Toledo 4-3 in Overtime
The Newfoundland Growlers kicked off the Kelly Cup Finals in dramatic fashion Saturday night at Mile One Centre, defeating the Toledo Walleye 4-3 in overtime before a sold-out crowd, to take a 1-0 series lead.
Zach O'Brien opened the scoring with exactly one second left in the opening frame, roofing a Hudson Elynuik rebound over Pat Nagle for his playoff-leading 15th tally to give the Growlers a 1-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes of play.
Hudson Elynuik doubled the lead to 2-0 at the 9:46 mark of the second period after a heavy forecheck by Josh Kestner resulted in a Walleye turnover, and the Calgary native made no mistake, firing home his fifth of the playoffs.
The Walleye looked to get on the board with 2:11 left in the second period while on a two-on-one, but a windmill glove save by Michael Garteig sent the home crowd at Mile One Centre into a frenzy, and preserved the 2-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Josh Kestner extended the lead to 3-0 just 1:21 into the third period, using his speed to burn around the Walleye defenders and slide the puck past Nagle's pad.
Chris Crane broke Michael Garteig's bid for a third-consecutive shutout at 6:28 of the third period, firing a wrister between the hash marks to give the Walleye life, and Shane Berschbach added a powerplay goal just two minutes later, cutting the Growlers lead to 3-2
Greg Wolfe evened the game at 12:51 of the third period, giving Toledo three goals in just over six minutes and sending the game to overtime.
Josh Kestner played the role of hero, once again using his speed to burn past the Walleye defenders 4:58 into overtime, scoring his second of the night to give the Growlers a 4-3 win, and a 1-0 series lead in the Kelly Cup Finals.
Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas was in attendance
Zach O'Brien has scored a goal in the opening game of every series
The three stars were 3 - M. Register (TOL), 2 - H. Elynuik (NFL) and 1 - J. Kestner (NFL)
The Kelly Cup Finals continue Sunday night at Mile One Centre against the Toledo Walleye, ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop is 7 p.m. Limited tickets are available at mileonecentre.com.
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