As we entered the week, the Walleye were down 2-0 in their first round playoff matchup with the Cyclones, headed into a three-game set in Cincinnati. Ruh-row.
Game Three: Cincinnati Cyclones 5, Toledo Walleye 2
I don’t know if the fact I was cleaning the bathroom during this game made it more painful to listen to on the radio, but what a suck-fest.
Last Wednesday night saw the same goaltender matchup as the previous two contests: Blackhawks prospect Kent Simpson in net for the Walleye vs. Michael Houser for the Cyclones. The first period featured many chances for Toledo, as they outshot Cincy 16-10. As per the norm in the series thus far, the Walleye took a penalty late in the period, and the Cyclones cashed in. Charles Olivier-Roussel tipped a shot past Simpson with just 1:03 left in the first, and Cincy took a 1-0 lead heading into the dressing room.
The lone glimmer of hope for Toledo in this contest happened early in the second period, as recently sent-down Max Nicastro wristed a shot past Houser at 6:59 to tie the game at one. No sooner did the radio broadcast mention that the Walleye have a habit of giving up a goal right after they score, whoop, whoop, whoop, here comes Josh Birkholtz just 1:27 later to regain the lead for the Cyclones. CAN WE NOT TOLEDO?
The third period saw three Cincinnati goals sandwich a Byron Froese power play goal (YOU MEAN THEY CAN SCORE WITH A MAN-ADVANTAGE? WHO KNEW?), and that was that. Rather than describe this game any further, let me have Faith No More do it for ya:
Floppy fish indeed.
Game Four: Toledo Walleye 3, Cincinnati Cyclones 2 (2OT)
Down 3-0 in the series, the Walleye decided to make a switch in net on Friday night, starting Jordan Pearce in place of Kent Simpson for the first time in the playoffs. Was Simpson at fault for the three previous losses? Perhaps a bit, as there were a few goals I’m sure he wanted back. But when the team in front of you can only muster 5 goals in 3 games, the outcome is usually not positive.
Unlike the previous matchup, it was Cincinnati that outshot the Walleye in the first period (11-9), but Toledo would be the one to dent twine. Cody “I Have A Large Nest of Birds In My Beard” Lampl fired a shot from the blue line past Michael Houser at 14:11 to give Toledo the early lead. As a bonus, the Walleye managed not to let Cincy tie the game up immediately afterward. They waited until the next period instead.
Mathieu Aubin wristed a shot past Pearce 3:36 into the second, tying the game at one. Mike Embach scored a goal with just 23 seconds left in the middle period, which undoubtedly sent the home crowd into happy hysterics, while giving Walleye fans a collective case of gallstones.
Twenty minutes from elimination, the Walleye poured it on the Cyclones in the final period, outshooting the Cyclones 15-5. Only one of those shots snuck past Houser, a deflection from Travis Novak at 6:46. For the second time in the series, the game went into overtime. In retrospect, I’m glad I was at the Hawks game during this as I might have torn all my hair out. Or something.
The first OT period saw zero scoring, despite the Walleye holding a 11-5 edge in shots. Captain Kyle Rogers decided to ruin Friday night for the Cyclones faithful, ending the game 1:24 into the second OT. I hope all the Cyclones fans were still in line for beer when it happened.
Game Five: Toledo Walleye 3, Cincinnati Cyclones 1
Well this was unexpected. And a surprise, as I was stuck at an unnamed home-improvement store most of Saturday evening (yay crappy customer service!) and missed this. OH WELL.
Sticking with what apparently works, Jordan Pearce got his second start in net for the Walleye. Get this: the Walleye scored all three of their goals on the power play. THREE. Did someone not tell them that April Fools was two weeks ago?
Joey Martin got the scoring started for Toledo, putting a rebound past Michael Houser at 9:48 of the first. Spreading out the wealth, Trevor Parkes one-timed a shot to give the Walleye a 2-0 lead at 12:59 of the second period. Rounding out the scoring, Travis Novak scored his second of the playoffs at 3:09 of the third to give the Walleye their most commanding lead thus far in the series.
Because the Cyclones are the absolute worst, Brian O’Hanley scored with just 25 seconds left in the game to spoil Pearce’s shutout. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS CINCINNATI. The game finished with the Cyclones having a 35-23 advantage in shots, and a now somewhat precarious 3-2 series lead heading back to the Huntington Center in Toledo.
So let’s look at the remainder of this series, shall we:
- Game 6: CIN at TOL Tue Apr 16 7:35 PM
- Game 7: TOL at CIN Wed Apr 17 7:35 PM *
* – THIS GAME WILL ONLY BE PLAYED IF TOLEDO WINS. Duh.
Now we all know that coming back from a 3-0 series deficit in sports is almost as rare as a game in which the St Louis Blues don’t act like a bunch of douchecanoes. But hey, it does happen – ask the 2010 Boston Bruins. And if Toledo wins on Tuesday night, you’ll hear all those sphincters tightening in Cincinnati all the way from here in Chicago.