Pearce records first shutout as Walleye blank Evansville 4-0Written by Vincent D. Scebbi | | email@example.com
Goaltender Jordan Pearce stopped all 27 shots to help lead the Toledo Walleye to their second straight victory as they topped the Evansville IceMen 4-0 on Dec. 15.
“It’s all about the wins,” Pearce said. “The shutouts are icing on the cake. They’re fun to get, but they’re not goals and goals get you wins. I thought our team played exceptional.”
The shutout is not only Pearce’s first of the season, but also the team’s first of the 2012-13 campaign.
Coming into the game, the Walleye were 0-3-0 against an IceMen squad that was 4-0-2 in December.
“This is a team we play a lot. To erase that mind block we might have against them, the sooner we can do that the better,” said Walleye head coach Nick Vitucci.
The last time these two teams squared off, Evansville scored five consecutive goals to win 8-5 on Dec. 7 in Evansville, Ind.
“We gave up eight goals last time so there was a real commitment to our D-zone,” Pearce said. “I think it showed. I played well. I had a good first period and I think we kind of took over in the second and third period and limited their chances. It’s a team effort and a lot of guys deserve a lot of credit.”
Toledo recorded a season-high 46 shots on net against IceMen goaltender Paul Dainton, who had 42 saves on the night.
Toledo scored first with 5:56 remaining in the first on forward Willie Coetzee’s 12th goal of the season. Coetzee fired a one-timer from the right side off a pass from Joey Martin. Right winger Kyle Rogers also helped set up the goal.
“When we score first, we’re always winning,” Coetzee said. “I think today was a great game. We wanted to beat this team so bad and we wanted first place so bad. We’ve been working hard on little things. Just keeping it simple for us and those goals were huge for us.”
While no goals were scored in the second, the Walleye had their chances, outshooting Evansville 18-4 in the middle period.
Dainton kept Evansville close by making some crucial stops. A little more than five minutes into the middle period, the Walleye had a scoring chance with a two-on-one rush led by Philippe Paradis and Max Campbell, but Dainton slammed the door shut with a glove save.
His glove stayed hot a few minutes later when he stopped a breakaway attempt by left winger Terry Broadhurst.
When the second period expired, Dainton had 35 saves, compared to Pearce’s 19.
Toledo’s offense opened the floodgates in the last 3:18 of regulation, scoring three goals.
Forward Travis Novak was the first to light the lamp on an unassisted goal. Evansville coughed up the puck near the net and Novak took it off his skate to his stick and finally to the twine. It was his third goal of the year.
Evansville pulled Dainton and not long after, Coetzee scored his second of the night on the empty netter with 1:49 left in the game. Rogers and Martin assisted on this goal as well.
Left winger Terry Broadhurst added insult to injury with 13.4 ticks on the clock when he took a pass from Andrej Nestrasil and sent it home. Right winger Luke Glendening also assisted on the play.
“The Novak goal was big for us,” Vitucci said. “Getting that second goal with maybe 2:19 left in the game. Maybe iced it. The empty netter was icing on the cake. It was offense and we’ll take it, but the game was out of reach.”
The win puts the Walleye in first place of the North Division with 31 points. They lead the Cincinnati Cyclones by one point.
“There seems to be a lot of back-and-forth it seems like every game with Cincy,” Pearce said. “Obviously it’s important to be first now, but at the end of the season, that’s when you want to be up front. You got to get your points now and it’s easier to get points now than it is later in the season.”
Toledo returns to the Huntington Center on Dec. 16 when the team hosts the Florida Everblades. The puck is scheduled to drop at 5:05 p.m.
Tags: Toledo Walleye