FAIRBORN, Ohio - Missed opportunities made all the difference.
The Dayton Bombers edged the Toledo Storm 2-1 last night in front of a crowd of 5,412 fans at Wright State University's Nutter Center. It was the third meeting between the two teams in six days.
“Both teams played nine solid periods of hockey,” Storm coach Dennis Holland said. “Dayton went 2-1 but it could easily have gone the other way.”
Toledo took a 1-0 advantage early in the first period because the Storm's Rob Thorpe was in the right place at the right time.
The left wing was in position when a Tim Verbeek shot ricocheted off the post. Thorpe slipped the puck past Dayton goaltender Alex Westlund for a power-play goal.
Toledo would hold that lead into the second period, which was scoreless for 10 minutes.
Persistence paid off for Bombers center Jamie Ling. As the Storm defense swarmed around the left side of the goal, Ling skated the puck around the back. When his shot was deflected, center Brad Holzinger was there with the second effort, slapping it over the outreached arm of Storm goaltender Mark Bernard, who was sprawled on the ice.
The score was 1-1 after two periods.
“We had some missed opportunities,” Holland said. “We had some breakaways and we had our chances.
“If we make those, it's 4-1 after two (periods) and it's our game.”
Bombers defenseman Greg Labenski tallied the only score of the final period as he took a pass from a faceoff and drilled in the winning goal from the blue line.
The Dayton defense withstood the Storm's late-game attack as the Bombers improved to 16-9-4 and earned a little breathing room in the ECHL Northwest Division. Toledo falls to 15-12-1, five points behind the second-place Bombers.
Rest is not on the schedule for the Storm. Toledo returns home for a game tomorrow night against division-leading Peoria, and then travels to Peoria for games Saturday and Sunday.
Toledo is 3-0-1 against the Rivermen this season.
“We go into the series with a lot of confidence but we also understand the power they have,” Holland said.