The San Diego Gulls left the back door open yesterday at the Sports Arena and the Storm walked right in and made itself at home.
Toledo rolled to its season-high fourth consecutive win, a relatively easy 5-2 victory, by scoring three times on back-door passing plays.
While coming in from the back side, Toledo - 10-2-1 in its last 13 starts and 23-14-4 overall after going three-for-three on the weekend - continues to move toward the front.
The Storm's 50 points are good for a second-place tie in the ECHL North with Atlantic City, just two points behind division-leading Wheeling.
"It was pretty to watch,'' said Storm defenseman P.J. Martin, who got the game-winner in the second period by pinching in on the power-play and finishing a back-door pass from Sam Paolini. "Guys were finding everybody back door. It was just a good, heads-up game on our part.''
Toledo's convincing passing performance impressed one National Hockey League player who graced the ice at One Main Street.
"They did a great job in a small arena, using their speed and jumping into open holes,'' said Gulls' center Curtis Brown, a locked-out Chicago Blackhawk who was on the ice for one of Toledo's four even-strength goals. "Guys went to the net hard off the cycle or off a turnover and we weren't quick enough to pick it up. At the end of the night, it's tough for a goalie to
come up with a save back door.''
The visitors scored first but Toledo responded with one in the first period and three more in the second.
Scooter Smith tied the game at 1 on a back-door pass from Danny Eberly at 13:53. After Jason Jozsa made it 2-1 with a top-shelf blast from the point just 32 seconds into the middle frame, Martin increased the lead to 3-1 with his back-door effort at 12:51.
After the Gulls cut it to 3-2, Maris Ziedins scored at 17:08 of the second off a back-door feed from Paolini.
Todd Jackson completed the scoring in the third, converting a rebound.
"At times, I think San Diego's defensemen got confused because it's such a small rink,'' Ziedins said. "I don't know. I'm guessing, but we'll take it.''
So will Toledo coach Nick Vitucci, who's happy to walk through any door as long as his team wins.
"Credit the players for that performance,'' Vitucci said.
"It's a good time here right now.''
NOTES: Defenseman Paul Ballantyne, who was assigned to Toledo on Saturday from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League by the parent Detroit Red Wings, is expected to join the Storm for Wednesday's 7 p.m. rematch with the Gulls at the Sports Arena. Ballantyne, whose arrival will necessitate a roster move, had 13 goals and 23 assists in 54 games for the Storm last season before being reassigned to Louisiana at the trading deadline. He had one assist in 23 games in the AHL this season Storm tough guy Robert Snowball has been placed on the seven-day injured reserve list after bruising his hand Saturday in Peoria.
Contact Dan Saevig at: email@example.com.