This last week marked the beginning of the Kelly Cup playoffs – sixteen teams enter, one will survive! Or some cheesy bullcrap like that.
Toledo as the #7 seed in the Eastern Conference began their best-of-seven series against #2 seed and old friends, the Cincinnati Cyclones. The first two games of the series was played on Friday and Saturday night at the Huntington Center in Toledo. Yes, I know usually the higher seeded team gets the first two games at home, but Cincinnati was too busy enjoying monster trucks to care. Don’t ever change Ohio.
Anyway, onto the recaps of two games that nearly made Mel pitch her computer out the window (damn you internet radio!)
Game One: Cincinnati Cyclones 2, Toledo Walleye 1 (2OT)
Walleye rookie Kent Simpson and the Cyclones’ Michael Houser got the starts for their respective teams in goal. The first period was fast-paced, with excellent chances on both sides. The Walleye dented twine first when Trevor Parkes fired a shot past Houser 6:45 into the first period – Ben Youds and Aaron Bogosian had the assists. This would probably be the high point of the game for the Walleye. Ugh.
At 8:28 of the first, Cyclones forward Mike Embach scored, tying the game at one. Through twenty minutes, the Walleye held a 13-8 edge in shots.
I wish I could give some hard hitting analysis for the second and third periods, but I was stuck buying exciting products at Menards (this is how I spend my Friday nights folks – be jealous) and missed the radio call. No worries – I didn’t miss much. Neither team could bother to score the remainder of regulation and the game headed to the exciting yet heart-attack inducing event known as sudden-death overtime. Through sixty minutes, Toledo had a slight edge in shots, 23-22.
Despite the Walleye having a power play and two minutes of 4-on-4 play with offsetting minors, neither team could capitalize and the teams finished one overtime without scoring. Toledo had 13 shots alone in the first OT, with Cincy getting 9 of their own.
As it is usually the case, the game ended early in the second overtime. Embach scored his second of the game, capitalizing on a Simpson rebound at 4:58. As a former member of the Chicago Express, I expected better of you Embach. CONFLICTED MEL.
On the plus side, Simpson stopped 36 of Cincinnati’s 38 shots. The Walleye also killed off all 5 Cyclones power plays. Then again, Toledo was 0-for-4 themselves with the man-advantage, so there’s that.
Game Two: Cincinnati Cyclones 5, Toledo Walleye 2
Do I really have to recap this? It was bad enough listening to it live. Thank the Baby Jesus I didn’t make the drive to Toledo for this flaming bag of poop.
Simpson and Houser again were in net for the Walleye and Cyclones. The first period was the best period for Toledo was neither team scored. The Walleye outshot Cincy, 10-6. Damn you Houser.
Things went downhill quickly in the second period when David Pacan scored just 1:31 in. The Walleye almost got out of the period relatively unscathed, but a late penalty would be their undoing. Taylor Ellington (another former Express player, ARGH), scored a power play goal with 14 seconds left in the period to give the Cyclones a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. To add insult to injury, Kyle Rogers took the only penalty for roughing in a tussle that happened as the horn sounded. This would be a trend.
The third period, well, it sucked. The Cyclones were awarded a laughable four power plays in the last twenty minutes, scoring on three of them. This included a David Pacan hat-trick – hooray for him *fart noise*. Not only was the crowd angry and restless the way ECHL crowds infamously are, the Walleye radio announcer was also incredulous, to the point I thought he might go to ice-level and start a brawl himself. In the aftermath of the power play bloodbath, poor Kent Simpson was pulled for Jordan Pearce at 9:16 of the third. Can’t really blame him – the Cyclones had 18 shots in the second period alone.
The refs gave the Walleye a couple of make-up calls late in the third period. Joey Martin managed to score on one at 11:36 to break Houser’s shutout. Byron Froese added a Toledo goal with 30 seconds left to make the game look better than it was. But make no mistake folks – with this kind of effort, I’ll be done writing ECHL recaps after this weekend until October. Yay?
In somewhat positive news, it was announced today that the Grand Rapid Griffins (BOOOOOO) have sent Andrej Nestrasil back down to Toledo. Nestrasil was fourth on the team in scoring (11G, 30A), even though he only played forty games in the ECHL this season. This should hopefully be a boost for the Walleye, if they can keep their asses out of the penalty box.
So, the remainder of the series looks like this:
- Game 3: TOL at CIN Wed Apr 10 7:35 PM
- Game 4: TOL at CIN Fri Apr 12 7:35 PM
- Game 5:. TOL at CIN Sat Apr 13 7:15 PM *
- Game 6: CIN at TOL Tue Apr 16 7:35 PM *
- Game 7: TOL at CINWed Apr 17 7:35 PM *
* – this is the dreaded IF NECESSARY asterix
Can the Walleye pull this series out? Sure, but they’re not making it easy. And they’ll probably send me to the hospital if they do.