Toledo Walleye need extra time come back against Kalamazoo 3-2Written by Vincent D. Scebbi | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If the Walleye’s Nov. 30 matchup against the Kalamazoo Wings could be summed up in a word, it would be persistence.
The Toledo Walleye scored three late goals and needed an extra three minutes to complete the comeback against division foe Kalamazoo 3-2.
Toledo saw injuries hurt their lineup as Byron Froese left the game and they lost Joey Martin for a period after taking a stick to the face. At one point, defensemen Phil Rauch and Joey Ryan were playing forward alongside captain Kyle Rogers.
“I was surprised at everyone out of position and guys hurt, but we were still creating. I think they know in their minds that we’re a good team and we’ll get our chances and our looks at the back of the net,” said head coach Nick Vitucci. “Tonight’s another perfect example and an experience we can fall back on.”
Heading into the third period, Toledo trailed 2-0, but was outshooting the Wings 27-18. Forward Luke Glendening got the Walleye on the board 6:30 into the third period after scoring on a rebound after Andrej Nestrasil shot from directly in front of the net.
“It was clicking for us and we were rewarded for it,” Vitucci said. “You work hard and you create breaks but when you get the breaks, you have to take advantage of them and we were finally able to take advantage of them in the third period.”
After pulling goaltender Jordan Pearce with a little over a minute left in regulation, the Walleye turned up the pressure and kept the puck in the offensive zone for most of that minute.
In the closing seconds of his first ECHL game, defenseman Max Nicastro sent a quick shot to the twine that sent all 4,500 fans to their feet. While the time on the clock showed 0.00, but the puck broke the plane just before time expired.
“There was pretty much no time left. I was just trying to get that goal in there as quick as I could. Luckily, it went in,” Nicastro said. “It’s a great feeling; you can’t really compare that to anything.”
Nicastro is a native of Thousand Oaks, Calif. and played his college hockey at Boston University.
Vitucci said he knew of the rookie’s powerful shot and put him in a position in the umbrella where he could fire a one-timer.
“He ended up not in that area, but more in the middle of the rink,” he said. The reason he was out there was because of his shot. It was just a quick shot to the net and that’s what we look for in a situation like that.”
O’Neill sent the fans home happy after taking a soft drop pass from forward Joey Martin straight to the twine with just over three minutes into the extra period. It was his fifth goal of the season. Rogers was also credited with an assist on the play.
“Joey made an unbelievable drop pass and I just tried to get it on net. If you get it on net in overtime, good things happen,” O’Neill said.
Vitucci said originally he had Rogers and Travis Novak, but decided to switch Novak and Martin because of the amount of success his captain and Martin had last year in overtime.
“It was a tic-tack-toe play and a fabulous shot to win it for us.”
The win is the Walleye’s second overtime win of the season. They are 2-1 when play extends beyond 60 minutes.
Toledo finished the game with 44 shots on goal, their second highest in a game.
Kalamazoo got on the board first a little over seven minutes into the contest when forward Nick Sirota knocked a loose puck from the slot past Jordan Pearce to make it 1-0. Steven Anthony and Stefan Schneider were credited with assists on Sirota’s fourth goal of the year.
After a high sticking penalty that sent Walleye forward Travis Novak to the sin bin, Kalamazoo capitalized on the advantage 1:30 later on a Kory Karlander goal. John Armstrong and Anthony were on the assists.
After the comeback, Toledo has won six of their last seven games and remains in first place of the North Division at 27 points.
They face the second place Cincinnati Cyclones on Dec. 1 at the Huntington Center. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:05 p.m.