ATLANTIC CITY - The Boardwalk Bullies and Toledo Storm will see a lot of each other this weekend.
Their first meeting last night was a pleasant one for the Storm.
Alexander Jacques' goal with 38.6 seconds remaining in overtime gave Toledo a 3-2 East Coast Hockey League victory before 2,127 at Boardwalk Hall.
The Bullies absorbed their second home overtime loss in a week and ran their home winless streak to three games (0-1-2).
Atlantic City sent 47 shots at new Toledo goaltender Alex Westlund, including breakaways by Jamie O'Leary and Scott Matzka late in regulation.
“We had ample opportunities to score, and their goalie played a tough game,” said Bullies goalie Scott Stirling, who stopped a Shane Calder blast with his facemask in the third period.
“We probably deserved a win, because I think we controlled the play for most of the game.”
In overtime, Bullies defenseman Shane Belter went deep into the Toledo zone on a scoring chance. The Bullies were then caught short in the defensive zone as Toledo's Magnus Nilsson dug the puck out of the corner and fed Jacques for the game-winner.
“We had some tired legs on the ice there,” Bullies coach Mike Haviland said. “It just got a little scrambly and it found the net. I'm not going to carve my guys up for making an aggressive play. He (Belter) went for the win, jumped into the play, and he just missed.”
“We had two fresh guys on the ice, and we took advantage of that,” Storm coach Dennis Holland said. “Jacques and Nilsson really worked hard and made the difference.”
Bullies newcomer Jerry Keefe followed up the rebound of a Rob Stanfield shot at 6:42 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie.
Toledo's Ryan Gaucher countered with a goal at 10:26, assisted by Chris Wismer and Shawn Maltby.
Maltby had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds of regulation but tipped a pass just wide.
The Storm (4-6-1), trying to escape the basement of the Northwest Division, played its first game with new forward Kevin Kerr.
The 34-year-old winger, one of only 10 players to accumulate at least 500 goals and 1,000 points, scored 82 of his 587 career goals with the Bullies' franchise when it was located in Cincinnati and Birmingham from 1990-93.
Also breaking into the Toledo lineup last night were goalie Westlund and winger Calder, both acquired earlier in the week.
“We added three new players, and we were kind of fired up,” Holland said.
“Our goalie was very good. When we got down 2-1, he gave us a chance to tie it up. It's a big win for us. We haven't had that many wins, and every point is important to our hockey team right now.”
The Bullies were determined to set the tempo after their lackluster effort in Wednesday's 3-0 loss to Dayton. They had the better chances in the first period, but Westlund stopped 15 shots and was rewarded with a 1-0 lead on a deflection goal by Raitas Ivanans off a point shot by Maltby at 7:16.
The Bullies came out flying in the second period, outshooting the Storm 18-9. Luke Curtin's low skimmer from the point found the back of the net at 14:45 on a power play. It was Curtin's fifth goal of the year, second on the team to John Campbell, who is currently playing with Providence of the American Hockey League.
The Bullies and Storm will play the second game of the two-game set tonight at 7 p.m.