Walleye bring playoff series back to Toledo with 3-1 win in Game 5Written by Vincent D. Scebbi | | firstname.lastname@example.org
CINCINNATI – The Toledo Walleye are sending their Kelly Cup Quarterfinal series against the Cincinnati Cyclones back to the Huntington Center after taking Game 5 3-1 April 13.
For the second-straight night, goaltender Jordan Pearce was a brick wall for the Walleye, stopping 34 consecutive shots before Brian O’Hanley’s shot from the point got by him with 24 seconds left in regulation.
Pearce, who made his first start of the series April 12, jumped between the pipes after goalie Kent Simpson dropped the first three games of the series.
“To make the decision for Game 4 to go with Jordan, we were just making a change for the sake of making a change, being down three games to nothing,” said Walleye head coach Nick Vitucci. “He responded exactly how we knew he would be.”
One of Pearce’s biggest saves came in the closing seconds of the second period when he denied Mike Embach from the left wing.
With the forward charging the net, Pearce turned on his side, stacking his leg pads and came at Embach, denying the shot similar to a keeper in soccer.
“This whole series has been a battle and we’ve been playing with our backs against the wall, kind of desperate hockey,” Pearce said. “It’s a little bit easier to play from behind, you’re going out, our season probably is ready to end and you just play as hard as you can and if you win, you win and if you lose, you go home.”
Toledo’s special teams also made the difference in Game 5; all three goals came off the power play and the penalty kill stopped all seven Cyclones power plays.
“Almost the series is reversed and where they rode a hot goaltender and the power play for them was going very well and now we’re riding it and our special teams are doing very well right now,” Vitucci said.
The Walleye struck first on a power play goal with 10:12 left in the opening period. Forward Joey Martin banged in a rebound off a shot from Byron Froese. Forward Willie Coetzee also picked up an assist on the play.
Trevor Parkes knocked in Toledo’s second power play goal with 7:01 left in the second period. Parkes beat Houser on a rebound from Coetzee. Andrej Nestrasil picked up the assist and his first point with Toledo since returning before game 3.
The third power play goal came off the stick of Travis Novak with 16:51 left in regulation. Novak’s shot came from the high slot and was his second goal of the series. Assists went to Nestrasil and Froese.
Despite winning two straight games at U.S. Bank Arena, Toledo trails the series 3-2 and a loss in Game 6 or 7 ends their season.
“It’s no different than last night was or tonight, they’re elimination games and we’ve got to be our best to excel in them,” Vitucci said.
The next task for the Walleye will be doing something they have not done since April 6, 2010 – win a playoff game at the Huntington Center.
Toledo lost the opening game of this series 2-1 in double overtime April 5 and then dropped Game 2 5-2 the following night, both games at the Huntington Center.
Opening faceoff for Game 6 is slated for April 16 at 7:35 p.m. in Toledo.