ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - The Toledo Storm played a low-risk, no-frills hockey game last night - the perfect strategy in this glitzy casino resort.
Sam Paolini scored the tie-breaking goal 8:42 into the third period as the Storm edged the Boardwalk Bullies 2-1 in front of an announced crowd of 3,503 at Boardwalk Hall.
The Storm (29-17-4, 62 points), with its 10th win in the last 13 games, pulled into a tie with idle Wheeling for first place in the ECHL North Division.
"Nothing flashy - just a good, hard effort - and fortunately we got a couple bounces our way," said coach Nick Vitucci, whose team is 2-2 on its five-game road trip.
"We took advantage of our opportunities," Paolini said. "We got great goaltending [from Logan Koopmans]. It was just one of those greasy road wins. We seem to be winning these games, which is a sign of a really good team. We're putting forth that extra effort to win these one-goal games."
The same teams meet again at 2:05 p.m. today at Boardwalk Hall as the Storm ends its road trip. Toledo returns home Wednesday to face Alaska at the Sports Arena.
Koopmans stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced for his 10th win of the season.
Atlantic City's Jake Moreland made his first start in goal since Jan. 30, and the Storm peppered him with 11 shots in the first period. Moreland ventured far from the crease to thwart Nick Parillo, just out of the penalty box, on a mid-period breakaway, and also stopped shots by Rob Snowball and T.J. Martin.
Koopmans saw less action in the opening period, but did make a nice save on a point-blank shot by Fraser Clair.
Parillo fared much better in his next matchup with Moreland, at 2:42 of the second period. This time, the goalie never saw the speedy winger's shot from the right circle, which whistled past the post for a 1-0 Storm lead.
At the other end, Koopmans was rarely tested, though he did get help from the crossbar on a hard slapshot by Scott Horvath. Moments later, Toledo defenseman Paul Balantyne was denied by Moreland on a wide-open shot from the slot.
Atlantic City came out flying in the third period, pouring eight shots on goal in the first five minutes. The Bullies tied the score when Paul Caponigri cleaned up the rebound of a Jason Notermann shot at 2:57.