Brampton's Matt Petgrave, left, defends as Toledo's Erik Bradford takes a shot on goal during Saturday's ECHL game at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo.
Blade/Kurt Steiss Enlarge
After playing six games in nine days, the last thing the weary Toledo Walleye needed was another overtime game, but they persevered.
Playing a third consecutive game that went past regulation, the Walleye had a happy homecoming with a 3-2 win in overtime Saturday against Brampton before a capacity crowd of 8,000 at the Huntington Center. The Walleye had dropped the Beast 2-1 in overtime Friday in Ontario.
Veteran forward Shane Berschbach scored the game-winner 1 minute, 31 seconds into overtime as he tipped in a shot by Dylan Sadowy.
“It’s really tough, especially with the travel,” said Berschbach, who notched his seventh goal of the season. “We didn’t get home [from Canada] until 4 a.m. But playing on the road the last couple games in quieter buildings, it wakes you up once you get here. Playing here never gets old. It’s really special.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Walleye 3, Beast 2
Toledo returned to the downtown arena after five games in Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Ontario since Jan. 19. The Walleye lost 4-3 in a shootout at Reading on Wednesday.
Walleye coach Dan Watson called it a hard-fought battle.
“[Brampton] has been playing hard against us,” Watson said. “We’ve had a lot of close games against them. This home-and-home series we were able to get four points, which is huge for us right now.”
Sadowy and Kyle Bonis scored in regulation for the Walleye, while goalie Pat Nagle finished with 31 saves. Defenseman Ryan Obuchowski finished with two assists. Sadowy, who also had a team-high nine shots, also had an assist.
Nagle came up with three enormous saves in the first 54 seconds of the extra period.
“He was sharp all night long. In big moments, he’s always there for us,” Watson said. “When that happens, you go down and get one at the other end there. You feed off that momentum. The guys were up on the bench, banging their sticks from the big saves. That momentum shifted.”
Berschbach said the team wanted to reward Nagle.
“He bailed us out there,” Berschbach said. “We wanted to take the puck and go right down the other way and get our own chances.”
Berschbach had missed Friday’s game with the flu. “That goal helps a little bit,” he said.
The Walleye (27-12-4) are now 4-0-0 this season against the Beast, and they improved to 16-4-0 at home with five consecutive wins.
The team finished 2-2-1 on the trip, but it will play five of its next seven at home. Toledo hosts Cincinnati at 5:15 p.m. Sunday, the Walleye’s fourth game in five days.
“You have to take it day by day and not look too far ahead,” Berschbach said. “You just have to stay focused. Sunday will be a big battle. Cincy’s right there in the standing with us. These are four-point games that we can’t afford to lose.”
The Beast pressed hard throughout the third and found the equalizer with 2:59 left in regulation. Chris Leveille tied it at 2 on an assist from Matt Petgrave and Brandon Marino.
Sadowy gave Toledo an early 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 13:54 of the first. Davis Vandane had the initial shot and Sadowy was there in front of the Beast net to tap in the loose rebound.
The Beast tied it at 1 with a goal just one second after their power play midway through the second expired. Vincent Dunn scored with a tap-in at the side of the Toledo net.
Bonis then scored on a great set up from Mike Borkowski with 35 seconds to go in the second to give the Walleye a 2-1 lead. Bonis’ 13th goal of the season came after great stick work by Borkowski, who got the puck through two defenders and slid it to Bonis for a one-timer.
Brampton goalie Andrew D’Agostini, who finished with 29 saves, had two great stops to keep it scoreless early. He came up with a glove save on Charlie O’Connor with 9:53 remaining in the first, then made a pad save on Bonis as the Walleye were on their second power play.
Watson was not completely thrilled with his team’s effort, saying they did not make enough plays in the game.
Nagle, who entered the game tied for the league lead with 18 wins, made 11 stops in each of the first two periods.
Sadowy had a glorious chance to score his second of the game a minute into the second, but he was denied by D’Agostini.
With the game still tied at 1, Bonis was sent up ice on a solo breakaway with a nice outlet pass from Patrick McCarron. It looked like Bonis was hooked and it affected his shot, but no penalty was called.
The Walleye had good, consistent pressure and good looks with four shots on their third power play late in the second but did not score.
Coming into the game, Toledo had been struggling on the power play with only three goals in its previous 44 power-play chances (6.8 percent).
On Jan. 5, the team’s power-play unit ranked 13th (18.0 percent) in the ECHL. Before this game, it had fallen to 19th at 15.6 percent.
Toledo finished 1 of 3 with the man advantage.
“We’ve been working hard at it.,” Watson said. “We finally got rewarded. And once you get that one, you start to feel good and you get that swagger and confidence.”
Watson said his team must stay mentally focused Sunday.
“We can’t take one shift off,” he said. “We have to be engaged and making plays and taking care of the puck. We have to concentrate.”
FISH TALES: Bonis prevented a great chance for the Beast early on when he broke up a threatening pass play deep in the Walleye end. … There was not much at all generated on Toledo’s first power play with no shots. … It was a bit feisty in the first with post-whistle shoving and chirping. … The Walleye did not allow a shot on Brampton’s first power play of the game and also killed off a second Beast power play moments later with active sticks in lanes and several good clears. … The Walleye had two great chances around the eight-minute mark. Bonis was stopped on a two-on-one breakaway with Connor Crisp. Erik Bradford then could not handle a pass with a wide open net in front of him. … Sadowy had the opportunity to make it 3-1 with five minutes left after Bradford sent him free on a solo rush. But the shot was wide.
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