*SMALL SAMPLE SIZE (I mean, there’s only 71 more games to go…)
So the ECHL season got started last week, with a little more fanfare than usual. Gee, I can’t imagine why *koff*TakeYourFocusGroupAndShoveItNHL*koff* In any case, the Walleye only had one game, their home opener last Saturday in front of a capacity crowd of 8,000 at the Huntington Center. They faced last year’s North Division champions, the Kalamazoo Wings.
Toledo Walleye 4, Kalamazoo Wings 1
Red Wings’ prospect Petr Mrazek made his ECHL debut in net for the Walleye, while K-Zoo started goaltender Joel Martin, who last played in the ECHL in 2009, having spent time in the CHL and Denmark.
The Walleye wasted little time in welcoming back Martin, as centER Max Campbell potted a goal on a pass from Andrej Nestrasil behind the net just 3:36 into the game. Each team had two power plays in the first period, including a short 5-on-3 advantage for the Walleye, but neither team could take advantage.
Nestrasil gave the Walleye a 2-0 lead 1:55 into the second period, on a nice pass from Campbell. The middle frame was when things started to get chippy, as it often does when two division rivals play one another. Phil Oreskovic laid out Wings forward Eric Kattelus with a big check, which led to Kattelus having to be helped off the ice.
While some reports say Oreskovic’s hit was clean, he nonetheless was assessed a five-minute major for charging, and a ten-minute and game misconduct. Laughably though, the Walleye did not allow a K-Zoo shot while killing off the major penalty, while mustering a few quality chances shorthanded. After two periods, Toledo held a 23-19 shot advantage.
Willie Coetzee gave the Walleye a three goal cushion with 12:58 remaining in regulation. Sadly, someone in Western Ohio must have said the “S-Word” (no, not another word for doody), as the Wings were finally able to break the seal. Elgin Reid scored a power play goal with just 3:16 left, ruining Mrazek’s bid for a shutout in his pro debut.
Campbell put the game away with 1:05 left, potting his second of the game on an empty net to make it 4-1 Walleye. The game finished with the usual North Division shenanigans. Phil Rauch and noted Wings/Wolves/Canucks dumbass Darren Archibald had a spirited fight with just 29 seconds left after Archibald took a roughing minor.
With 14 seconds to go, 12 more minutes of penalties were doled out, 6 apiece for the Walleye and Wings. Oh ECHL – how I’ve missed you. The game finished with the Wings having the edge in shots, 34 to 31. Mrazek stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced in the final period.
Blackhawks Prospects Update: Both Terry Broadhurst & Byron Froese notched an assist in Saturday’s game. Broadhurst also got called for interference in the third period. Kent Simpson has yet to make a start in goal, but with back-to-backs this weekend, expect to see him between the pipes at least once
The Week Ahead: The Walleye play their second game of the season at home vs. the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday, October 19th. The Walleye will play their first road game of the year on Saturday, October 20th in Kalamazoo vs. the Wings.
Current Standings: North Division -1) Toledo Walleye, 2 points (1 GP), 2) Cincinnati Cyclones, 2 points (1 GP), 3) Kalamazoo Wings, 2 points (2 GP), 4) Fort Wayne Komets, 2 points (2 GP), 5) Evansville IceMen, 0 points (1 GP). WOOO, FIRST PLACE! Ok, tempering expectations now…
Stats-O-Rama: [Yes again, SMALL SAMPLE SIZE] Max Campbell leads the team in goals (2) and is tied with Andrej Nestrasil for the lead in total points (3)… both Nestrasil and Travis Novak have 2 assists… Petr Mrazek is fourth in the ECHL with a 1.01 GAA and is first in the league with a .971 SV%… Phil Oreskovic is 6th in the ECHL with 15 PIM… the Walleye were 0 for 5 on the power play and killed off 5 of 6 penalties in their first game… with 38 PIM in their only game, the Walleye currently lead the league in penalty minutes per game average. LOLZ.
He’s rather creepy but I think I must go to Toledo now just to get a photo with Spike, one of the Walleyes’ mascots. HE’S A DAMN FISH WITH HOCKEY TEETH.