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Published: Thursday, 2/23/2006

Slumping Storm powerless

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Wheeling goaltender Andy Franck stops the Storm's Bracken Kearns. Franck frustrated Toledo, making 36 saves. Wheeling goaltender Andy Franck stops the Storm's Bracken Kearns. Franck frustrated Toledo, making 36 saves.
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The suddenly slumping Toledo Storm dropped its third straight game last night, and the losing skid has been fueled by a powerless power play.

Toledo went 0-for-7 on the power play and has not scored in its last 25 chances with the man advantage. Wheeling scored two second-period goals and held on for a 2-1 victory before 3,181 at the Sports Arena.

"We're pressing on the power play," said Storm coach Nick Vitucci. "Obviously it is frustrating because at times we're trying to do too much with it. We're taking shots from tough angles and making high-risk passes.

"We're in a rut right now and we're trying to do too much to get out of it."

The Storm last scored a power-play goal four games ago when it tallied two last Friday against the Nailers.

"With the way they are calling the penalties this season, you have to have a good power play," said forward Ken Magowan, who leads the team with 12 power-play goals. It's a big part of [the losing streak]. The main reason is, we're not getting enough bodies in front of the net."

Toledo has dropped three straight for the first time since Dec. 27 and lost for the first time to Wheeling at the Sports Arena this season. The Storm (27-16-5) also fell seven points behind the second-place Nailers (31-16-4) in the North Division, but remains in the third.

Before losing streak, Toledo had won five in a row. But the Storm dropped to 15-6-3 at home and had gone nearly 124 minutes without a goal here before Jeff Attard scored with just 50 seconds remaining.

Wheeling goalie Andy Franck stopped 36 shots. Terry Virtue scored on the power play and Tim Verbeek added another with 35 seconds to go in the middle stanza.

Toledo failed to cash in on a nearly-full two-minute 5-on-3 advantage early in the second period. The Storm had three shots during the 1:55 stretch.

"We just need to work harder to get out of this slump," said Magowan, who had an assist. "We have to do the gritty things and get the power play going."

Playing in its fifth game in six days, Toledo still outshot Wheeling 37-31.

Storm goalie Drew MacIntyre, who was playing in his sixth straight game, made 29 saves.

Wheeling struck first while the Storm was down two men early in the second. MacIntyre then kept his team in it with four nifty saves in the late stages of the second period. But Verbeek, a former Storm forward, scored in the waning moments.

Vitucci pulled MacIntyre for the extra attacker with 1:37 left and Attard capitalized with his seventh goal of the season.

"We never count ourselves out with as many times as we've come back in the third period," Magowan said.

But Toledo, which has today off before embarking on a stretch of six games in eight days, could not score again with the extra skater.

NOTES: Toledo swapped forwards with Greenville yesterday, getting Matt Zultek for Brad Bonello. Bonello had 30 points in 32 games, including 11 goals. The former first-round selection of the Los Angeles Kings has collected 11 points in 22 games. But he has averaged over 200 penalty minutes in the last three seasons. He is expected to join the team Friday in Johnstown.

"We needed to bring in size, strength and talent," Vitucci said.

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6110.



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