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Published: 12/10/2006

Rookies Tardif and Martin pace Storm

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Two rookies helped the Storm overcome a flat start against Wheeling last night as the team mounted an impressive comeback with three unanswered goals in the final 15 minutes.

First-year right winger Jamie Tardif scored twice and fellow rookie Andrew Martin tallied the game-winner as Toledo overtook the Nailers 4-3 last night. Veteran left winger Matt Zultek scored a goal and had two assists for the Storm before a crowd of 4,580 at the Sports Arena.

Wheeling scored two goals in a span of 3:40 over the end of the second period and start of the third period to take a 3-1 lead. But the Storm responded with three goals and Martin netted the decisive marker with 4:42 remaining.

Tardif scored his sixth and seventh of the season, including the tying goal.

It was the second of three games in as many nights between the division rivals. The teams meet against tonight at 6 in Wheeling.

It was gut-check time, Tardif said. We have a lot of good character players. We came back in the third with a couple of big goals and [tonight] we can go in with a little more confidence.

Toledo scored three goals in a span of 9:17 to avoid a second straight loss to Wheeling.

In a game often played at a snail s pace with 58 penalty minutes, Wheeling scored single goals in each period to take a 3-1 lead. But the Storm (11-7-1) rallied to break a two-game winless streak and remained tied for first place in the ECHL North.

We overcame a slow start, but we caused it. We took too many bad penalties, said Storm coach Nick Vitucci. We finally hit the switch we were waiting to hit for 50 minutes.

Goalie Logan Koopmans (9-4-1) played strong enough to allow his team to get its legs and finished with 32 saves.

Tardif tied it at 1 just 3:31 into the second period on a slapper from the right point. But Toledo fell down 3-1 early in the third period before Zultek scored on a rebound.

That third goal took the wind right out of our sails, but we didn t get down on ourselves, Zultek said. We knew there was a lot of time left in the game.

Martin then sent a perfect feed to Tardif to tie at 3. Martin passed up a shot from the slot and sent a pass to Tardif who one-timed it past Wheeling goalie Kevin Schieve with 10:37 left in the game.

Martin completed the rally with a long slap shot from the top of the right circle at the 15:18 mark of the third.

Wheeling (9-11-1) got goals from Bo Cheesman, Jordan Cameron and Sean Collins. Schieve suffered his first loss of the season despite making 31 saves. The Nailers pulled their goalie with 57 seconds left, creating a rare 6-on-3 situation with two Storm players in the penalty box. But Koopmans made three saves to preserve the win as the Storm won its fifth straight at home.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.



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