FRASER / BLADE Enlarge
FRASER / BLADE Enlarge
There's something special happening at the Sports Arena.
Last night it was the Storm's exceptional special teams play that generated yet another win on a home ice where opponents are finding it increasingly difficult to win.
Toledo tallied goals on the power play, penalty kill and three at even strength as the Storm walked away with an impressive 5-0 blanking of Atlantic City.
Toledo seized sole possession of second place in the ECHL North Division and pulled within two points of first-place Wheeling, which was idle last night. The Storm also improved to 10-0-1 in its last 11 games at One Main Street and moved to 15-6-1 overall at home to maintain a torrid winning pace.
"Our confidence is the biggest reason we're playing so well," Storm coach Nick Vitucci said. "It's so important to win in our home rink. We're just rolling with it."
Toledo and Atlantic City came into the contest tied for second place. The Storm is now 3-1-0 against the Boardwalk Bullies after posting its biggest margin of victory this season before an announced crowd of 2,634.
The Storm (26-15-4) is 8-2-1 in its last 11 games and has now won seven of its last eight games.
"Everyone is playing well," said goalie Scott Fankhouser, who posted his fourth shutout of the season. "Everyone is doing their job, that's been the difference."
The Storm, which came into the game ranked seventh in the penalty kill, did not allow the Bullies to score on five power-play chances.
Storm forward Nick Parillo scored on the penalty kill midway through the second as he generated his own breakaway. Parillo chipped the puck away from defenseman Brian Fahey who was bringing it out of his own end. Parillo broke behind Fahey, skated in all alone and beat Trevor Koenig through the five hole. Parillo's ninth goal dribbled through Koenig's open legs and gave Toledo a 2-0 lead.
"Scooter [Smith] and I both read it and I chipped it up and was able to get a couple steps on the defenseman," Parillo said.
"Our penalty kill has been so strong for us all year," Vitucci said. "Parillo is one of the strongest penalty killers, so it was fitting that he got one tonight."
"Our offense and defense all are bringing it to the table," Parillo said.
The Storm first got on the board with a power- play goal. Defenseman Paul Ballantyne launched a slap shot from just inside the blue line.
Koenig was in position to block the high shot, but Toledo forward Tyler Knight deflected the puck underneath a helpless Koenig.
It was Knight's team-leading 18th goal of the season.
With the Storm swarming all over the Bullies over the first three minutes of the third period, Smith rifled a slap shot from the top of the right circle, beating Koenig over his right shoulder for a 3-0 lead.
Thomas Micka and Todd Jackson put the exclamation point on the win with even-strength goals in the third. Jackson's goal, which came on an assist from Snowball, forced Koenig from the game.
Fankhouser (18-8-2) looked sharp, stopped 19 shots and improved to 12-2-1 at the Sports Arena.
NOTES: The Storm's fifth straight win at home tied it for the longest such streak in the ECHL this season. Toledo improved to 3-1 and 3-0 at home against the Bullies.
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