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Storm jilts Chiefs

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Storm goaltender Logan Koopmans stops a shot against Johnstown last night. He made 38 saves for his second shutout of the season.

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The Toledo Storm organization raffled off Valentine's Day dates with three different players last night.

Then the team went out and kissed off the Johnstown Chiefs 3-0 before a crowd of 4,792 at the Sports Arena.

Goaltender Logan Koopmans stopped 38 shots and Scooter Smith scored two goals, including a short-handed tally late in the third period, as the Storm improved to 11-0-1 in its last 12 home games.

"We don't have any superstars on this team," Koopmans said. "It's a different guy every night. Tonight, it was Scooter Smith."

Koopmans, a Detroit Red Wings' contract player, also was strong, pitching his second shutout of the year in the net.

He stopped 17 shots in the third period as the Storm held off the slumping Chiefs, then finished them off with short-handed goals by Smith and Maris Ziedins in the final 2:10.

"Koopmans was outstanding for us," coach Nick Vitucci said. "If he hadn't hung tough and made some of those saves, it could have been a lot closer than it turned out. He was the difference in the game."

Red-hot Nick Parillo added two assists - he has at least one assist in his last seven home games - for Toledo, which registered its sixth shutout victory this season.

With 27 victories and 58 points, the Storm moved into a first-place tie in the ECHL's North Division with Wheeling, which played at Alaska.

"Obviously, I am happy we are winning," Vitucci said. "But I'm even more excited because I think we can play better."

The Chiefs had a chance to tie the game 1-1 with a power-play opportunity late in the game after Sam Paolini picked up a penalty for roughing. But Smith scored short-handed for his seventh goal at 17:50 to clinch the win for the Storm.

Ziedins collected his 14th goal on an empty-netter, which was set up by Tyler Knight's assist.

"We're finding ways to win tight games and that's important at this time of the year," said Smith, a former college star at Colgate who is playing with his fourth ECHL team in two seasons. "Any time you can get two points in our division, it's a big deal."

On Smith's first goal at 3:12 of the second period, Parillo dished him the puck in front of the net, near the right side of the face-off circle. Smith, one of the three players who secured a date in the raffle, went top shelf and beat Chiefs goaltender David Cann on the glove side for an even-strength goal.

"As soon as I saw Nick come across and blue line and carry the puck into the zone, I knew he was going to get it to me," Smith said. "He fed me a great pass, and it was just a matter of me putting it into the net."

Johnstown had not one, but two opportunities to tie the game in the second period, but the Chiefs misfired both times.

"This was a big win for us," Vitucci said. "But we're on the road for the next five, starting today in Reading so it's important that we keep on winning."

Contact Ron Musselman at: mussel@theblade.com or 419-724-6474.

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