Walleye Ground Cyclones with Three Quick Second-Period Goals
TOLEDO, Ohio - The Toledo Walleye bounced back from an early two-goal deficit on Wednesday, scoring three goals in a 1:52 second-period span en route to a 5-3 victory over the Central Division-leading Cincinnati Cyclones at the Huntington Center.
After falling behind 2-0 in the opening period, Josh Winquist, Kevin Spinozzi and Brenden Kotyk lit the lamp in quick succession to give the Walleye a 3-2 lead by the three-minute mark of the second stanza. Josh Kestner netted what proved to be the game-winning tally with 7:45 to go in regulation, before Kotyk banked his second goal of the night off the glass and into an empty net with 35.8 seconds on the clock.
Kotyk was one of four Walleye (37-17-4-1) skaters to show multiple points, as Winquist and Kestner each recorded a goal and an assist, while Shane Berschbach dished out a pair of helpers. At the other end, Billy Christopoulos turned away 26-of-29 shots to pick up his eighth consecutive victory and improve to 24-3-3 on the season.
The Walleye, who improved to 7-3 over Cincinnati (38-17-7-1) in the regular-season series, now sit five points behind their intrastate rivals with four games in hand.
The Cyclones carried the play to begin the contest and seized a 1-0 lead at the 4:18 mark. Nate Mitton took a rinkwide pass from Mason Mitchell at the Toledo line before driving down the right wing and centering the puck back to Mitchell in front for a tap-in past the right pad of Christopoulos.
Cincinnati eventually doubled its advantage with 1:27 remaining in the first frame. Cody Milan was the first to a loose puck at the left circle, and promptly set up Pascal Aquin for a one-tiimer that got a big piece of Christopoulos' catching love before trickling in.
After being outshot by a 10-4 count in the opening 20 minutes, the Walleye needed all of 37 seconds to get on the board one period later. Berschbach took a bouncing stretch pass from Kestner at the Cincinnati zone, and showed veteran patience to send Kurt Gosselin out of position before sending the puck through the slot to Winquist at the right circle for a one-timer over a spawling Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
Toledo pulled even exactly one minute later, as Hensick gathered the puck behind the Cincinnati net and set up Kevin Spinozzi at the top of the left circle for a sharp one-timer that went off the inside of the right post and in.
Fifty-two seconds after Spinozzi restored parity, Kotyk lifted the hosts to a 3-2 lead. Abbott Girduckis gained the Cincinnati line and dropped the puck to Kotyk, who had plenty of time and space in the slot to snap a shot that squeezed through Luukkonen's left arm and body at 2:29.
The Walleye eventually added to their lead in the final frame courtesy of Kestner's team-leading 33rd goal of the season. At the left circle, Kestner drove toward the net on his backhand as he won the battle for position against Tobie Misson, before shifting to his forehand for a shot that glanced Luukonen's catching glove and rolled underneath the Cincinnati netminder's right pad before inching over the goalline with 7:45 to go in the third.
Cincinnati tallied a power play goal to slice its deficit in half with 4:31 to go in regulation. On a tic-tac-toe sequence, Justin Baudry sent a slap-pass toward the left circle to Jesse Schults, who promptly delivered the puck to Justin Vaive in the slot for a one-timer through the five-hole. However, the Cyclones' rally was halted when Kotyk banked a clearing attempt off the glass that rolled the length of the ice into a vacated net with 35.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Walleye are scheduled to head to the Hoosier State on Friday for a matchup against the Fort Wayne Komets. Puck drop from the Memorial Coliseum is at 8:05 p.m.
1. Toledo - Josh Winquist (goal, assist)
2. Toledo - Josh Kestner (goal, assist)
3. Toledo - Brenden Kotyk (two goals)
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