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It was Fan Appreciation night at the Sports Arena last night and for the near-capacity crowd of 5,128 it may have been the best way for the Storm to say thanks for the support during one of the worst seasons in Toledo hockey history.
One night after being trashed 9-0 by Atlantic City at One Main Street, the Storm regrouped and earned a point in its rematch with the Boardwalk Bullies.
Atlantic City skated off with a 1-0 win on a goal by Jon Cullen just 45 seconds into the five-minute, 4-on-4 overtime.
Cullen beat Storm netminder Cory Campbell — who made 40 saves — with a wrister under the crossbar from about eight feet out.
By earning a point for the OT setback, Toledo avoids finishing in a third-place tie with three other teams for the most home losses in ECHL history.
The Storm ends its home slate with a mark of 11-19-6.
Why the turnaround? Perhaps it was because Toledo coach Nick Vitucci ordered a full-contact practice at 7:30 a.m. yesterday. On a normal game day, the team usually has a short, late-morning skate with no hitting.
“You battled and competed and clawed against your teammates at 7:30 a.m.,” Vitucci said. “Why wouldn't you do it at 7:30 p.m.? We did it tonight.”
Campbell was a big reason for the improvement. Yanked after giving up six goals in the first two periods Friday, the netminder was outstanding. One of his best stops came in the second period, when he stacked the pads to thwart Dave Reid's power-play opportunity.
“I talked to Nick and he said I was back in the net a little far [Friday],” Campbell said. “Tonight I just said, ‘I'm going to go out and challenge them.' ”
The Bullies noticed the difference in not only Campbell, but the entire Storm team.
“It's been a long time since I've had somebody holding me and on my back like that all night,” said ex-Toledo captain Alexandre Jacques, who was traded to Atlantic City this month and given the Storm's award as most valuable player during pre-game ceremonies.
“It was a perfect situation for me; we get a win and it was a good game for Toledo.”
SERIOUS INJURY: Bullies' defenseman Chad Dameworth was life-flighted from Bay Park Community Hospital to Toledo Hospital last night after suffering what Atlantic City coach Mike Haviland said was a lacerated kidney that may require emergency surgery.
With time running out in the first period, Toledo's Derek Campbell leveled Dameworth — who had his head down while going behind his net to start a breakout — with a clean check.
Contact Dan Saevig at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.