The Toledo Storm went into last night's game with the Richmond Renegades as one of the hottest teams in the East Coast Hockey League, winning six of their past seven games.
But the Storm ran into someone even hotter - Richmond goalie Maxime Gingras. His performance between the pipes and a fluke Renegade goal helped Richmond to a 1-0 victory over Toledo at the Sports Arena.
The game ruined a standout performance by Toledo goaltender Mark Bernard, who had snuffed out three Richmond power plays in the first period.
It was Toledo's first loss this season in 13 games where it held its opponents to three goals or less.
It was only the second time the Storm had been shutout this season and the contest snapped a six-game home winning streak.
“Both goalies played extremely well tonight,” said Toledo coach Dennis Holland.
“This has to be the best two-goalie performance that I've seen in a long time, but they got the goal and we didn't.”
Richmond's goal came with 14:43 remaining with two Renegades players, Dan Vandermeer and Rod Taylor, in the penalty box.
Matt Noga picked up the puck near center ice for a break away and beat Bernard for what ended up to be the game winner.
“We made a mistake [defensively],” Holland said. “That was very big goal. I thought we were going to score. Mentally, that was a tough one.”
Toledo fought back, peppering Gingras with shots near and far. A short-handed Storm breakaway by Shawn Maltby ended up in Gingras's glove with 10:22 remaining.
Gingras batted a couple of other solid shots away at the five-minute mark. he was also helped by several shots off the post.
“Play this game any other night and Toledo probably wins 1-0 or 2-0,” Richmond coach Mark Kaufman said.
“This is one of the toughest places to play in the league and I'm just glad we don't have to come here again. They have a heck of a club and have been playing well and both goaltenders played great games.”
The nice words were no consolation to Bernard, though, who left Richmond empty on seven power play opportunities.
“Anyone in this locker room will tell you that you'd rather lose 8-0 than 1-0,” Bernard said.
“Games like this tear your heart out. Everyone on this team played their hearts out. But we've got a big game with Dayton coming up so we have to come in and play the same way we played tonight.”
The first five minutes of the game set up the defensive battle to come.
The Storm's Tim Verbeek was called for hooking 42 seconds into the game. Chris Bogas was slapped for slashing 34 seconds later.
Then Maltby and Bryan McKinney were both tapped for roughing and tripping, respectively and the Storm found themselves briefly with four players in the penalty box.
But Richmond's eight shots on goal were all turned away by Toledo penalty killers to keep the contest scoreless after the first period.
Toledo had 39 shots compared to Richmond's 32 shots, but just couldn't get one pass Gingras.
“The ice wasn't very good tonight and the puck was bouncing a lot,” Holland said. “We played as well as we played this season. We have to put this one behind us and keep playing hard.”
The Storm will play Dayton tonight at 7:30 and play at Wheeling on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Both games will be broadcast on 1230-AM.