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A black and white sweater with orange armbands had the Storm seeing red last night.
Referee Sean Reid was a major topic of discussion following Toledo's 2-0 loss to Reading at the Sports Arena, a setback that leaves the club on the brink of elimination from the ECHL's Kelly Cup playoffs.
Reid's involvement in both goals - a collision that may have aided the first and a penalty that set up the second - drew the ire of the Storm as key factors in the outcome which gave the Royals a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five North Division semifinal series that continues tomorrow evening at One Main Street at 7:05.
"I just thought there wasn't a lot of tick for tack," Storm coach Nick Vitucci said. "If something happened one way, it didn't happen the other and vice versa."
What upset the Storm the most on an evening that saw Toledo outshoot the visitors 42-32 and dominate in quality scoring chances, was Rob Hisey's marker 3:00 into the second period.
Hisey circled the Toledo net, spun and fired a 10-footer that clanged off the far post. It slid into the slot where he chased it down.
At that moment, Storm defenseman Jason Maleyko and Royals' forward Eric Fortier were in front of Toledo goalie Scott Fankhouser. Maleyko attempted to move Fortier, who landed on top of Fankhouser and knocked the goalie into the net and out of the play.
Hisey had an open net and didn't miss.
"[Reid] told me that I pushed him in," Maleyko said. "That wasn't the case. As soon as I tried to push him, he fell right on top of Scott. He's on top of him and I'm trying to pull him off. I'm not saying call a penalty or it should have been a penalty, but take the face-off outside. You can't allow a goal like that, especially in a tight game like this."
Another goalie pileup impacted the second goal.
Scooter Smith was penalized at 12:34 of the second for cross-checking Royals defenseman Tom Galvin into his netminder, Barry Brust.
Reading took advantage 1:42 later as Cail MacLean beat Fankhouser from the right wing.
After that goal, Vitucci looked in the direction of Reid and clapped his hands.
"Scooter punched him and deserved the penalty," Vitucci said. "But I thought Scooter got punched by three people afterward and I thought it should be an even-up call."
To even up the series and force Game 5 in Reading on Wednesday, the Storm must find a way to beat Brust. He's stopped 101 of Toledo's 102 shots in the three games and has yet to allow a power-play goal in 17 opportunities.
Yesterday he stopped Storm sniper Carl Mallette eight times, including three saves that were of the highlight-reel variety.
"You look at all three games and they've been a bounce away from one team winning," said Fankhouser, who has turned aside 90 of the 93 shots he's faced in the series. "[If] we get the puck deep and we force them, we've got just as good a chance to win as they do.
"We're definitely not looking like it's over."
Contact Dan Saevig at: email@example.com.