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Toledo Falls to Utah, 5-4, in Western Conference Finals Opener

May 20, 2022 - ECHL (ECHL) - Toledo Walleye News Release

TOLEDO, Ohio - The Toledo Walleye fell to the Utah Grizzlies in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, 5-4, on Friday night in an overtime thriller at the Huntington Center.

Brett McKenzie scored two goals in the effort, including an equal strength goal late in the third period to send the contest to overtime, but Charle-Edouard D'Astous netted the game-winner in the extra period to give the visitors the 1-0 series lead. Toledo's six-game win streak dating back to Game 6 of the Central Division Semifinals against the Cincinnati Cyclones came to an end with the loss.

The Walleye and Grizzlies skated out to an even opening period, as each team took 11 shots and scored one goal. Utah got on the board first on a Tyler Penner goal as Nate Clurman and Dakota Raabe assisted. The goal, scored at 10:23, marked Penner's first of the playoffs.

Randy Gazzola followed up with a goal of his own with just 32 seconds remaining in the frame, scoring from the blue line to tie the game at one. Gazzola's goal was also his first of the playoffs. Chris Martenet and John Albert added assists.

The Walleye took the lead for the first time with 4:16 gone in the second period as Brandon Hawkins scored his tenth goal of the playoffs. TJ Hensick collected the primary assist, while Chris Martenet added his second helper of the game with a secondary assist.

With 10:08 gone, Benjamin Tardif scored an unassisted goal for the Grizzlies, skating around the back of the net and sneaking the puck into the goal to tie the game. Tardif has five goals in the playoffs.

The first penalty for either team came with 13:17 gone, sending Nick Henry to the penalty box for tripping. The Fish went on the power play, and Brett McKenzie delivered from the left circle to put Toledo back in front. Josh Dickinson and Cam Clarke recorded the assists.

1:20 later, the Grizzlies tied the contest again as Kyle Pouncey found the back of the net from short range with help from Dakota Raabe and Miles Gendron.

The Grizzlies regained their lead at the 6:22 mark as Dylan Fitze scored from the right circle at equal strength. Connor McDonald recorded the lone assist.

Brett McKenzie scored the game-tying goal with 15:22 gone, tallying his second of the game. Marcus Vela and Blake Hillman assisted as the Walleye pulled even with Utah once again.

The Walleye outshot the Grizzlies, 13-6, in the third period, but the two teams ultimately ended regulation tied at four, sending the contest to sudden death 5-on-5 overtime.

7:55 into the overtime period, Josh Dickinson was called for hooking, putting the Grizzlies on the power play. 17 seconds later, Charle-Edouard D'Astous scored the game-winning goal from just behind the right circle, giving the Grizzlies the 5-4 victory. The goal marked D'Astous' 18th goal of the playoffs, with Benjamin Tardif and Luke Martin assisting. The Grizzlies took the 1-0 series lead with the win, ending Toledo's six-game winning streak.

The Walleye outshot the Grizzlies, 39-34 in the contest, while each team scored one power play goal. Toledo took the man advantage three times while Utah had two opportunities.

Trent Miner earned the victory in net for Utah, making 35 saves on 39 shots faced. Billy Christopoulos recorded the loss, saving 29-of-34 shots for the Walleye. Christopoulos' six-game win streak in net for Toledo was snapped with the loss.

What's Next:

The Walleye and Grizzlies will return to the ice for Game 2 on Saturday night, with Toledo looking to even the series at one game apiece. Puck drop from the Huntington Center is set for 7:35 p.m.

Three Stars:

Utah - Charle-Eduoard D'Astous (game-winning power play goal)

Toledo - Brett McKenzie (two goals)

Utah - Dylan Fitze (goal)

See also:2021 NEWS2021 NEWS

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