ROANOKE, Va. - Toledo's Jason Norrie went toe-to-toe with Roanoke defenseman Anthony Belza last night at the Roanoke Civic Center.
At first Norrie was clearly winning, landing at least three solid uppercuts as the two struggled to hold each other's strong arm off.
But Belza absorbed Norrie's powerful punches and started landing some overhands of his own.
In the end, it was Norrie who clutched Belza's jersey, drawing the linesmen in to stop the fight.
The game went much the same way.
The Storm jumped out to a 3-1 lead and looked as if it had scored a fourth, but the Express absorbed those hits and came back to score a 4-3 East Coast Hockey League victory.
“Toledo played very well. They took it to us the first 20, 30 minutes,” Express coach Perry Florio said. “And they kept coming, I don't think they slacked off at all. It was one of those character-type wins where we were making a few mistakes and we still wound up winning. We haven't had one of those in a long time.”
The Storm took the lead at 6:41 of the first period when Derek Booth passed across the slot to James Patterson for a backdoor goal.
Roanoke's Doug Sheppard evened the score at 11:05.
Toledo's Tim Verbeek scored a power-play goal with 36 seconds left in the first period, and the Storm stretched its lead to 3-1 when Jeff Johnstone pushed the puck into the slot from the side of the net and Bryan McKinney scored 26 seconds into the third.
Less than 25 seconds later, Robert Thorpe took off on an apparent breakaway and scored what would have been Toledo's third straight goal.
The goal was called back, though, because B.J. Adams had created the room for the breakaway by high-sticking Sheppard.
Adams took a double-minor penalty because his stick drew blood from Sheppard's lip.
Roanoke was still on the power play from Adams's double-minor when Ben Schust was pushed down fighting for the puck in front of the net. Jeff Sproat was behind Schust and when the puck came out, Sproat slapped it into the net at 3:14.
John Sadowski tied the game, faking a pass as he was skating in on the net, then shooting under goaltender Mark Bernard's left shoulder at 11:11.
A minute and a half into the third period, Kevin McDonald left a drop pass for Troy Lake, who completed the Express comeback.
Bernard stopped 23 Express shots. Roanoke goaltender Daniel Berthiaume made 19 saves.