Walleye offense overpower Nailers 6-1 at homeWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Walleye got the offense started early and didn’t let up as they dominated the Wheeling Nailers 6-1 in Toledo on Nov. 17.
“The statement we made on the first shift, scoring a goal right off the get-go,” said Walleye head coach Nick Vitucci. “But at the start of each period, we started strong and scored a goal early in each period and just didn’t let up from there. A great team effort for an entire 60 minutes was something we are very proud of.”
The offense started just 58 seconds after the opening faceoff when captain Kyle Rogers took a pass from Randy Rowe and buried it past Patrick Killeen’s glove side to make it 1-0. Joey Ryan was also credited with the assist.
Of the 18 Walleye dressed to play, 11 of them added at least one point to their totals. Forwards Willie Coetzee and Luke Glendening led Toledo’s offense, each scoring two goals.
“It’s a coming out party of everyone,” Glendening said. “I thought tonight the guys really came together, the lines started clicking and things went well.”
Goalie Kent Simpson kept the Nailers at bay all game until late in the third period on a Scott Zurevinski goal. Simpson had 23 total saves on the night.
The Walleye special teams have been clicking lately. In the last three games their penalty kill has not allowed a power play goal the last 11 times they’ve been down a man.
On the other side, the power play has scored three times in two games and continues to generate opportunities when they have the numbers.
“The power play early in the year wasn’t good, but we’re getting opportunities and they’re starting to go in for us,” Vitucci said. “We’re creating things. Look at that five-on-three, we were all over them and that’s what we want out of them. Obviously you want a few more goals; you want that percentage to go high. But as long as we get opportunities, then we’re happy with it.”
Just about four minutes into the first, forward Andrej Nestrasil moved the puck down the right side, did a sharp button hook and crossed it to Byron Froese who sent it to the back of the net for a power play goal and extended the lead to 2-0. Simpson was also credited with an assist.
Forward Willie Coetzee made it 3-0 with almost three minutes left in the period when he fired a shot that was deflected by a Nailers defenseman past Patrick Killeen. The goal was Coetzee’s sixth of the year and Max Campbell was credited with an assist.
The score became 4-0 just 1:18 into the second period when Glendening took a rebound from a Ben Youds shot and got it just behind Killeen.
Glendening struck again early in the third period. While shorthanded, the forward was on the breakaway, cut in front of the net and sent a backhanded shot beyond the crease to make it 5-0. The goal was his eighth of the season.
Coetzee added to the lead on a one-timer with about 14:30 left to play. Center Joey Martin was credited with the assist.
The Nailers got a late goal past Simpson when Zurevinski intercepted a pass deep in Walleye territory and sent a shot from the near side to make the final score 6-1.
While he wanted the shutout, Simpson said he wasn’t disappointed by his effort.
“It’s one of those things you want to have, but at the same time our team got a big win and I felt good in there and that’s what matters more probably,” he said.
The loss puts Wheeling on a six-game losing skid. The team has dropped three in a row against the Walleye. After winning the first matchup in a shootout in Wheeling on Nov. 1, the Nailers have been outscored by the Walleye 16-6 in their last three meetings.
With the win, the Walleye find themselves on a bit of a hot streak, winning four of their last five games.
“The one we lost was the best one we played from start to finish and we just couldn’t solve the goaltender,” Vitucci said. “They’re buying into it. Some of our skilled players are realizing there’s a time and a place to be skilled and be creative and if it’s not there, just dump it in and go get it and that’s been working well for us over the past five or six games now.”
With Fort Wayne losing 5-0 to Evansville, the Walleye moved into sole possession of second place, just a point behind Cincinnati, who they face on the road Nov. 21 and then at home Nov. 23.
The puck is scheduled to drop in Cincinnati at 7:35 p.m.