Hello, hello? Is this thing on?
I know we’ve all been giddy with the NHL returning over the weekend, but contrary to popular belief, hockey never left in some places. So even though it seems as if half the players in the league got promoted, ECHL games continued as scheduled.
The Walleye came off a horrendous zero-point, three game road-trip in Florida to play two games against North Division rivals in the fine state of Indiana (snerk) over the weekend. Thankfully through reassignments and a few signings, the Walleye were able to put a team on the ice this week.
Toledo Walleye 5, Fort Wayne Komets 3
The Walleye again only dressed 10 forwards for this game, but thankfully were able to field a full defensive corp of six. Kent Simpson got the start in net for Toledo, opposing Ken Reiter for the Komets. Neither team was able to score through the first 20 minutes, with both teams even at 8 SOGs apiece.
Nino Musitelli, in his first game after signing with the Walleye, scored a wrister past Reiter just 1:45 into the second period. Just 1:40 later, Willie Coetzee potted his team-leading 15th of the year on a backhander to give the Walleye a 2-goal advantage. At 6:50, Mike Hoban got the Komets on the board, cutting Toledo’s lead in half. The period ended with the Walleye having a slight edge in shots, 9-8.
The floodgates opened for both teams in the final twenty minutes. Tyler Brenner scored his first goal with the Walleye at 11:43 – Brenner was assigned to Toledo by the Maple Leafs after playing his 32 previous games with Bakersfield. The Walleye lead would increase to three when defenseman Cody Lampl scored his third of the year at 13:45. Fort Wayne cut the Walleye lead to a single goal though, scoring the next two on Simpson; the first by Daniel Maggio at 16:09 and the second by Luca Caputi just 1:31 later. Coetzee would score his second of the game with 35 seconds left on an empty net to ice the game for Toledo. The Walleye would end the game with a 28-27 shot advantage over Fort Wayne.
Toledo Walleye 2, Evansville Icemen 1
Saturday night signaled the end of the Walleye’s five game road trip, with a visit to scenic Evansville. Jordan Pearce started in net for the Walleye, with Paul Karpowich between the pipes for the IceMen. Once again, neither team was able to dent the twine in the first period, with Toledo holding a 9-7 advantage in shots.
Josh Beaulieu broke the seal at 5:03 of the second with the IceMen on the power play. The Walleye were able to get a power play goal of their own, when Adam Hobson scored his fourth off a rebound by Karpowich at 11:22. That would be the Walleye’s first PPG in their last 25 attempts (Ave Maria). The game would remain tied at 1 heading into the final twenty minutes.
Nino Musitell would score his second goal in as many games for Toledo at 4:49, giving the Walleye their first lead of the evening. Pearce would make the one-goal lead stand, giving the Walleye an oh-so-exciting two-game winning streak. Toledo held a 32-23 lead in shots for the game. On a random note, the Evansville bench received an “Abuse of Officials” game misconduct at 20:00 of the third period. I’m sure the coaching staff was merely telling the refs they had a future in the NHL one day.
In amusing (or not) news, both goalies for the Walleye have been called up to the AHL in the last 24 hours. Jordan Pearce got a recall to the Grand Rapid Griffins, as Tom McCollum was sent to Detroit as a replacement for Jonas Gustavsson and his wonky groin. Kent Simpson was recalled to Rockford and actually started for the IceHogs in today’s matinee (he lost), as Carter Hutton was given a “day off.” I think this off day has something to do with this. You’ll notice Mr. Hutton beating the snot out of Petr Mrazek, who started the year in Toledo. No discipline has been handed down by the AHL yet, but it looks like it may be a lengthy suspension in the works for Hutton. But the Walleye need not find a beer-league goalie to fill in quite yet. Their next game isn’t until Friday, and Gustavsson’s injury is listed as day-to-day, meaning Pearce could make his way back to T-Town soon enough. Additionally, the Blackhawks traded a draft pick to Calgary for Henrik Karlsson this afternoon and immediately assigned him to Rockford. This would indicate either Simpson, Alec Richards or perhaps even Hutton will be back for the Walleye for the weekend. As the world turns folks.
In another tidbit, Willie Coetzee was named as a replacement for the ECHL ALL-Star Game which takes place Wednesday evening. Ben Youds and Luke Glendening both were originally named to the team, but neither will play being as they were part of the “Great ECHL Purge of 2013.” Coetzee will also participate in the Skills Competition tomorrow night, partaking in the “Team Skills Course” and Fastest Skater events. If curious, check out the All-Star Game website for broadcast information.
Blackhawks Prospects Update: NONE. In all seriousness though, Kent Simpson sports a 8-8-0-3 record for the Walleye with .885 SV% and a 2.85 GAA. Terry Broadhurst, Ben Youds and Byron Froese (all currently in Rockford) have 31, 27 and 17 ECHL points respectively.
The Week Ahead: The Walleye finally return home after the All Star break for three games over the weekend. The Kalamazoo Wings come into town on Friday, January 25th, followed by the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday the 26th. The weekend wraps up with a visit from the Evansville IceMen on Sunday, January 27th.
Current Standings: North Division – 1) Cincinnati Cyclones, 52 points (42 GP), 2) Toledo Walleye, 46 points (41 GP), 3) Fort Wayne Komets, 46 points (43 GP), 4) Kalamazoo Wings, 38 points (40 GP), 5) Evansville IceMen, 36 points (43 GP). Currently the Walleye hold the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Stats-O-Rama: Willie Coetzee leads the team with 16 goals and 35 points…Benny Youds (Rockford) has 23 assists…Andrej Nestrasil (in Grand Rapids) leads with a +15…Jordan Pearce leads the Walleye with a 11-7-0-1 record, a 2.56 GAA and a .906 SV%…Phil Oreskovic leads the Walleye with 88 PIMs…Coetzee is first in the league with 165 SOGs…the Walleye’s power play is 14.8% (20th – fourth worst) and have a 82.8% penalty kill rate (12th)…Toledo is 21st out of 23 teams, averaging 13.9 PIM per game…The Walleye are third in the ECHL with 12 road wins