DULUTH, Ga. - The Toledo Storm's game plan for Game 2 of the American Conference finals was to do exactly what it had done the first half of Game 1 against the Gwinnett Gladiators, but this time hold the lead.
The Storm, as if on rewind, surrendered a 3-1 lead to Gwinnett last night, but went on to win it in overtime by a score of 4-3, evening the best-of-seven series with the Gladiators 1-1.
Todd Jackson was the hero of the hour, putting a sneaky backhand from the slot past Adam Berkhoel on a power play.
The Storm started the evening playing a solid road game, capitalizing on Gwinnett mistakes. Gerry Burke capitalized on a Gwinnett failure to clear the zone and scored on a shot from the blue line just 2:41 into the game.
Gwinnett tied it at 4:52, but Toledo answered right back. Rob Snowball, who last played in Game 2 of the Wheeling series, replaced Mike James in the lineup and scored the team's second goal at 5:56 of the first period.
Up by two after two periods, Toledo grasped that lead for dear life during the third period, through a flurry of shots on a Gwinnett power play in which Koopmans had only a defenseman's stick.
As the power play ended, Gwinnett would try what had worked so well for the Storm thus far and crash the net, putting home a rebound to the crease. It gave Gwinnett the life it didn't have all game. The crowd of 3,274 came alive along with the Gladiators, who outshot the Storm 28-6 in the third period.
"Like Game 1, they really flipped a switch and came hard in the third period," Storm coach Nick Vitucci said. "We really had to weather that storm. We had to do a good job of killing those penalties late in the game."
But the extra intermission was enough to refocus the Storm, which outshot Gwinnett 8-7 in overtime.
Goaltender Logan Koopmans played his best game of the playoffs, stopping 54 of 57 shots. Ken Magowan was the other scorer for the Storm.
Game 3 will be Friday, the first of three in a row at the Sports Arena, where the team hopes to take advantage of its well-documented home-ice advantage.
"We wanted at least a split, we got it, and now we can go home and play in familiar territory," Vitucci said.
FANK IN THE HOUSE: Scott Fankhouser, the Storm's starting goaltender in 2004-05, lended moral support by attending both games in Gwinnett. Fankhouser who played in Austria this season, resides in Jasper, Ga., about an hour north of Atlanta.
MONDAY, MONDAY: The Storm never played on Monday during the regular season, but is two-for-two in dramatic Monday wins in the postseason. The first came against Wheeling in Game 1 of the division finals.
Tickets are still available for the Toledo Storm's remaining games in the ECHL American Conference finals.
The Storm returns to the Sports Arena Friday at 7:35 p.m. for Game 3 of its best-of-seven series against Gwinnett. Fans also can still purchase a second-half playoff package for as low as $84 for every home game in the conference and Kelly Cup finals.
The Storm is 4-1 at the Sports Arena in the playoffs and finished with a 27-6-3 record at One Main Street in the regular season. Toledo also will host Gwinnett on Sunday at 6:05 p.m. and again on Tuesday, May 16 at 7:05 p.m. Games 6 and 7 will be in Gwinnett on May 20 and 21, respectively, if necessary.
The organization also is planning several promotions in conjunction with the conference finals. A Toledo Storm "Zamboni parade" will be held tomorrow from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in downtown Toledo. The team's mascot, Dukes, will drive the Zamboni. The parade also will circle Fifth Third Field during the Mud Hens' game.
For more information call the Storm ticket office at 419-691-0200 or visit www.toledostorm.com.34.00336 -84.14497
The Toledo Storm's game plan for Game 2 of the American Conference finals was to do exactly what it had done the first half of Game 1 against the Gwinnett Gladiators, but this time hold the lead.