Solid goaltending blocks WalleyeWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite 45 shots on goal, the Walleye could only get one past goaltender Shawn Hunwick as the Walleye lost to the South Carolina Stingrays 2-1 Nov. 11.
“Be upset that you lost the game, but not the way you lost it,” head coach Nick Vitucci told his players. “We worked hard out there and threw everything we could at Shawn out there and I know you’ve seen it firsthand that just because he’s 5-foot-8 doesn’t mean he’s not a great goaltender and he certainly showed why he’s had so much success at this point.”
Right winger Luke Glendening said there was a level of frustration on the ice after seeing only one shot reach the back of the net, but the team kept battling through it.
Toledo almost snuck one in during the closing seconds of the third period.
With an extra attacker, center Todd Griffith fired a shot on Hunwick’s left side. The rebound deflected into the slot where Willie Coetzee tried to send it home as time expired, but it was blocked in front of the net.
“But you have to continue to work and not be like ‘Man, we’re running into a hot goalie,’” Glendening said. “We had so many chances. We’ve had 10 in the last two, and to get one tonight was a little disappointing.”
Hunwick, a former goaltender at the University of Michigan, stopped everything thrown at him for 46 minutes, until he gave up a rebound goal against Glendening, his former teammate and roommate.
“He’s about the only guy I didn’t want to give up a goal on,” Hunwick said. “If I’m going to give up a goal, I’d rather have him beat me on a rebound than beat me with a shot.”
Hunwick and Glendening played for the Wolverines from 2008 to 2012 and were roommates for two of those years.
A few minutes after Glendening’s goal, he fired a weak backhand into Hunwick’s chest. As play froze, Hunwick said the two were laughing about the shot.
“I started laughing because it wasn’t the greatest shot,” he said. “He started laughing too. It’s always fun to play against a good friend like that.”
South Carolina got the offense started with an unassisted goal by Matthew Pistilli, who picked off a pass deep in Walleye territory and sent it past the goalie with 14:37 left in the first period.
The Stingrays added to their lead 12 minutes into the second period on a Dylan Clarke goal. Tyler McNeely and Hunter Bishop were credited with assists.
“The two goals were broken plays that one hit a stick and bounced right in front and the other hit Phil Rauch’s skate and went back to the guy where he can make a back door play; just some bad puck luck in front of our net and not enough in front of theirs,” Vitucci said.
The Walleye finally got on the scoreboard after Glendening took the rebound off a Cody Lampl shot and sent it to the twine six minutes into the final period. Defenseman Wes O’Neill was also credited with an assist.
From then, it was just a lot of chances and close calls for Toledo.
“We battled to the final second trying to score goals, and unfortunately just fell a little short,” Vitucci said.
The loss concludes a weekend that saw Toledo play four games in five nights.
Vitucci said despite the stretch, there was still a lot of energy that resulted in the high number of opportunities.
“I worry about the effort because there’s not much gas left in the tank after four in five nights or three in three nights,” he said. “We certainly weren’t weary tonight and we really put our foot on the pedal and kept it on the pedal and for that I’m really happy.”
The loss keeps the Walleye at 13 points and in fourth place in the North Division. A win would have moved Toledo into a tie for second with Fort Wayne and a point behind Cincinnati.
“It’s a tough league right now,” Vitucci said. “There’s a lot of parody in our league. Every team seems to be the same. They’re quick, they’re skilled, they’re good defensively and they’ve got good goaltending.”
Skating for the Stingrays was Sylvania native Alden Hirschfeld. The 24-year-old played with Northview High School and helped them reach the state finals game in 2006.
“It’s good to be back in the area,” Hirschfeld said. “I’ve had a lot of text messages and calls from people. Obviously, all the guys know this is my hometown. It was pretty exciting to get a win in front of family and friends.”
The Walleye return to action Nov. 16 when they travel to Fort Wayne to take on the Komets. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8:05 p.m.