JACKSON, Miss. - One thing about the Toledo Storm that won't be found in all its impressive statistics appeared last night at Mississippi Coliseum.
“Our guys just have a strong will to win, and we're finding ways to do it,” Storm coach Claude Noel said after a 5-4 victory over the Jackson Bandits.
Playing on the road for the second consecutive night, the Storm fell behind early and was outshot for one of the few times this season.
But led by Darryl Bootland's hat trick and some great goaltending late in the game by Doug Teskey, the Storm ran its record to 25-7-3. With 53 points, Toledo leads the East Coast Hockey League's Northwest Division.
Bootland scored the game-winner during a third-period power play at 11 minutes, 28 seconds.
Jackson, which outshot the Storm 43-29, had been ineffective on the power play most of the season, but produced three power-play goals in five chances last night.
“They earned their shots,” Noel said of the Bandits. “That's usually an area we dominate, and they gave us a lot of grief tonight.”
Jackson's Adam Hauser, the reigning ECHL goalie of the week, might have felt a little shell-shocked after the second period, when Toledo scored four goals on nine shots.
At 4:16 of the second period, Toledo got on the board on a Bootland goal and 30 seconds later, the Storm hit again, this time on a long slap shot from the left circle by Erik Anderson.
Toledo came in as the most prolific shooting team in the league, averaging 35.4 shots per game while scoring 3.56 goals (ninth in the ECHL). The Bandits, by contrast, were averaging less than 30 shots and 2.87 goals per game.
But the Storm's attacking style hasn't come at the expense of defense. The team was allowing just 2.76 goals, fourth-best in the league.
The Bandits came out firing in the first 20 minutes, outshooting the Storm 16-12 and scoring the only goal of the period on a rebound by Brent Gauvreau at 12:37. Gauvreau's goal, assisted by Nick Theriault and John McNabb, came with one second left on a Jackson power play.