Those few hardy hockey fans who braved the winter storm to see the Toledo Storm last night were treated to a thrilling, sudden-death, shootout victory and free tickets.
All looked lost when Toledo was down to its last skater and trailing Atlantic City by a goal in the five-man shootout. But Maris Ziedins scored on a backhander to force a sudden- death shootout. After Storm goalie Scott Fankhouser stopped Brett Nowak, Toledo s Sylvain Dufresne netted the game-winner, also on a backhander, giving his team a 2-1 victory.
I really appreciate the fans who showed up and it s great to know that they left happy, Ziedins said.
It was very bad outside, but they actually came here and we played well, Dufresne said. it feels good for us and I m sure it felt good for them.
Toledo broke a three-game losing streak with the dramatic win at the Sports Arena in front of an estimated crowd of 550, all of whom received tickets to an upcoming Storm game for showing up. The announced attendance was 2,234.
We wanted to do something for them because of the inclement weather, said Storm general manager Mike Miller.
Miller said league officials determine if a game is canceled. He said because Atlantic City bused into Toledo Tuesday night, It would have been tough to cancel.
We talked about it. I think it is very rare in hockey where you will see a game canceled.
Fan favorite Nick Parillo got the Storm on the board midway through the second with a blistering slap shot from just inside the blue line. Jason Jozsa sent the puck up to Parillo, whose blast beat Moreland over his right shoulder.
But Atlantic City s Luke Curtin scored with just 27 seconds left with the Boardwalk Bullies goaltender pulled for the man advantage.
Curtin got in close and wristed a shot past Fankhouser.
Toledo then outshot the Bullies 5-3 in the scoreless four-on-four sudden death overtime period.
Atlantic City s Dan Peters scored on his team s first chance in the shootout and the Storm failed to score on its first four opportunities. But Ziedins finally answered after deking Moreland to his left and scored with a backhander.
It happened so quick, I had no time to think about the pressure, Ziedins said. It was only the second time I was in that situation and I scored before, so that gave me confidence.
Dufresne, a defenseman who was returned to Toledo yesterday from Rochester of the American Hockey League, scored his first goal of the year on a similar deke to seal the win.
It is a move I always make, Dufresne said. It was obviously a huge win.
Toledo is now 2-1 against the first-place Bullies, who had won five in a row.
It was important to get that stretch [of loses] behind us, said Storm coach Nick Vitucci. We re thankful for the loyal fans who battled through the weather.
Early in the third, Storm forward Rick Snowball got into the winter-weather theme when he got into a nasty brawl with Brad Both.
The Storm s best chances came during even strength situations as they had just one shot on three power play opportunities.
Last night s game marked the first of four contests in five nights for the Storm. Toledo takes on Dayton on the road tomorrow night and then faces the Bombers the following night at the Sports Arena. The Storm then starts a five-game road swing when it plays at Wheeling Sunday.
Toledo remains in fifth place in the ECHL North Division. Despite the loss, the Bullies maintained their position atop the North.
Miller, who was the longtime announcer for the NHL s New Jersey Devils, recalled a game in Winnipeg that was not canceled despite three feet of snow and temperatures at 20 below zero.
First and foremost we have to consider the fans safety, he said.
He also conceded that the organization took a hit financially due to the small attendance.
It s nice that the fans left on a decent note, Vitucci said.
Contact Mark Monroe at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6110.
As a tribute to the 1974-75 Turner Cup champion Toledo Goaldiggers, a team of retired Toledo pro hockey players will play a team of retired Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 22 at the Sports Arena, in an exhibition before a Toledo Storm game against Dayton.
This will be a great day for Toledo and the hockey that has been played here, said Storm vice president and general manager Mike Miller. The 1974-75 team was arguably the most admired hockey team and one of the most popular sports teams ever to play in Toledo. This will also be a terrific opportunity for Toledo fans to see some of the great alumni of the Detroit Red Wings.
The 1974-75 Goaldiggers, nicknamed The Miracle On Main Street, finished the regular season at 34-38-4, including a 14-24 road record. Yet in the playoffs the Diggers defeated three clubs with a combined 131-87 record and won 7 of 11 road games to win the Turner Cup. Toledo defeated the Columbus Owls 4 games to 1 in Round 1, won a 4-3 series against the Dayton Gems in the semifinals, then beat the Saginaw Gears in another seven-game series to win the cup.
Scheduled to play for the Toledo Alumni team, are, from the 1974-75 Goaldiggers: goaltender Ted Tucker, defensemen Michel Laurendeau, Craig Stamp and Don Craig; center and captain Juri Kudrasovs, who scored the cup-winning goal, and forwards Jim McCabe, Doug Mahood, Don Westbrooke, Moe Brunell (Toledo top goal-scorer with 40) and Darwin Mott.
Other former Diggers scheduled to play are defenseman Mike Greeder and forwards Dave Falkenberg and Joe Nathe. Toledo native and current Ottawa Senator Bryan Smolinski will also be in uniform, along with current Storm head coach Nick Vitucci. Smolinski is available because of the work stoppage in the National Hockey League.
Also scheduled to attend, but not to play, from the 1974-75 Goaldiggers are defensemen Jerry Badiuk and Kent Douglas and forwards Paul Tantardini, Ian Macfee and Brian Kinsella. The referee for the game will be former IHL great Sam Sisco.
Scheduled to play for the Red Wings Alumni are: forwards John Ogrodnick, Shawn Burr, Paul Ysebaert, Mike Krushelynski, Brent Fedyk and Nick Libett; center Dennis Hextall; defenseman Lee Norwood and goaltender Eddie Mio. Detroit has yet to finalize a roster for the game, which will begin at 5 p.m.