The first episode of the Storm's version of Extreme Makeover aired last night at the Sports Arena, but when it was all over it was an old, familiar face who stole the show.
On a evening that saw center Carl Mallette, left wing Kevin Bergin and defenseman Joey Martin - all having been acquired on Tuesday from Greenville in a seven-player deal - make their Toledo debut, it was veteran Rick Judson who starred in a 3-2 Storm win over Peoria.
Judson scored the winning goal with exactly one minute left in regulation, allowing fifth-place Toledo to move three points ahead of sixth-place Peoria and permitting the Storm to remain one-point behind Trenton for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL's North Division.
"Thirty-five-year-old Rick Judson," Judson said with a laugh. "I guess I know the lay of the ice and where to be after so many years in the building."
The winner came when Todd Jackson won a race to the puck, beating Peoria defenseman Chad Starling to the left corner in the Rivermen end. Jackson immediately fed Nick Parillo in the slot, who spotted Judson to the right of goalie Alfie Michaud.
Judson's goal was his 13th of the year and fifth in his last seven games. It helped the Storm break a three-game losing streak, two of which came last weekend in Peoria.
It was those losses that pushed Storm coach Nick Vitucci to shake up his roster with a trade that saw captain Sam Paolini, Tyler Knight, Maris Ziedins and Jason Jozsa join the Grrrowl.
"We talked about it," Peoria coach Jason Christie said. "Anytime you make a deal, it adds life to your lockeroom. It did; they came out hard."
Toledo outshot the Rivermen 17-4 in the first period, and Mallette and Bergin teamed up with holdover Pierre-Luc Sleigher for Toledo's first goal at 8:09 on the power-play.
"I played with Carl for three years [in junior hockey] and played against Kevin for three years, so we knew it was just a matter of time before we got this line going and get the crowd in the game," Sleigher said. "That is exactly what we did."
Sleigher started it off with a cross-circle pass to Mallette who was parked to the right of starting Peoria goalie Chris Beckford-Tseu, who left in the third period with cramps. Mallette immediately fired a cross-crease pass to Bergin, his linemate in Greenville, for an easy tap-in in the slot.
"I have played with Mally for two years and I think he's the smartest guy out there," Bergin said. "All you've gotta do is place yourself and put your stick there and it's going to come to you."
Peoria carried the play in the second and third frames, outshooting Toledo 25-15, but it was the effort of Judson and his linemates at the end that made the difference.
"We kind of stood back in the last two periods," Judson said. "I don't want to say we were lucky to take away two points, but we need to get it going again."
The second episode of Exreme Makeover will be shown tonight as the two clubs meet in a 7:30 rematch.
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