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Published: Saturday, 1/22/2005

Slonina breaks through as Storm stops Nailers

Steve Slonina had his coming- out party last night at the Sports Arena.

In his 16th game in a Storm uniform, it took the right winger just 60 minutes to double his point total for the season. The UMass-Lowell product scored twice - his second and third markers, and third and fourth points of 2004-05 - in a 4-2 Toledo victory over the Wheeling Nailers.

A 20-goal scorer last season in Gwinnett, Slonina's rights were acquired from Bakersfield on Dec. 14 in a trade for Ty Hennes. The 23-year-old from Massachusetts refused to report to California after being dealt to the Condors during the summer. He sat out and didn't play until the Toledo deal.

"I stayed in pretty good shape," Slonina said. "When I came back, a few weeks of practice and it's slowly coming back to me."

Moved onto a line with Sam Paolini on the left side and Rick Judson at center prior to the contest by the Storm coaching staff, Slonina scored Toledo's third and fourth goals. Paolini added a goal and two helpers and Judson an assist as the Storm won for the sixth time in its last eight starts.

Slonina took Scooter Smith's place on the line for the contest that may have featured more goals than hits.

"We knocked down things into pairs and thought that Judson and Slonina might be a good package at some point," Storm coach Nick Vitucci said. "With Smitty on that side with Juddy and Pao, I just thought they got stagnant together. It worked out well."

One of the reasons that Slonina didn't want to play in Bakersfield and requested a trade was exposure to pro scouts. Toledo is smack dab in a hockey hub.

"There's so many [American Hockey League] teams close to here," Slonina said. "Out in Bakersfield, there's not many AHL teams out there. It just seemed a better opportunity for me.

"I talked to a few people and they thought there might be a few places better, maybe closer to home. I listened to them."

NOTES: With Storm goalie Logan Koopmans away from the team because of a death in the family, Toledo's back-up was 48-year-old Detroit Red Wings' goalie coach Jim Bedard. The former Washington Capital, who played for the Dayton Gems in the mid-1970's, will play for the Detroit alumni this afternoon at 5 against the 1975 Turner Cup Champion Toledo Goaldiggers in a reunion game which precedes the Storm-Dayton 7:30 tilt....The '75 Diggers skated yesterday afternoon. "I have to put some oil on the wheelchair, " alum Jim McCabe said. Some 400 tickets remain for the doubleheader.

- Dan Saevig

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