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Published: Saturday, 12/23/2006

Cincinnati sent packing after Storm comes alive

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Sticks go skyward after the Storm ties the score at 1 in the second period against Cincinnati's Cyclones at the Sports Arena. Sticks go skyward after the Storm ties the score at 1 in the second period against Cincinnati's Cyclones at the Sports Arena.
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The short-handed Storm survived a sluggish start last night with a productive second period and hung on to put an end to a slump.

After falling behind 1-0 because of a lackluster opening period, Toledo kicked it into gear and scored two unanswered goals. Playing without its second-leading scorer and No. 1 goalie, Toledo broke a season-high three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win before 3,976 at the Sports Arena.

"We really needed that after three losses," said goalie Dominic Vicari, the No. 1 star of the game. "When you lose like that, the hole gets deeper and it's harder to climb out."

After being outshot by five to open the game, the Storm doubled the Cyclones in shots 16-8 and took the lead for good. The teams have now played six times with each club winning three games at home.

Toledo (13-10-1) fell behind for the third straight game, but rallied to remain in third place in the ECHL North Division behind Cincinnati.

On Thursday night, Toledo led the Cyclones 2-1 in the second period before falling 5-2. The Storm also entered the game with just two wins in its last seven games.

Vicari, who was starting in his fifth straight game in place of the injured Logan Koopmans, posted a solid effort with 28 saves.

"I challenged Dom to step up and he was a hero for us," said Storm coach Nick Vitucci. "He answered the bell."

In the opening period, Vicari was consistently peppered with quality shots.

"He played great in the first period," Vitucci said. "He was the reason why we were still in the game."

Koopmans (9-4-0) had gotten off to a good start with a 2.81 goals-against average, but he must undergo surgery for a double hernia. Koopmans has not played since Dec. 9 and is expected to miss two to three months.

"Koops is out and I have to step up and play big right now," Vicari said.

Storm rookie forward Jamie Tardif, who is the team's leading scorer, tallied his ninth goal, and Chris Blight notched his fourth. Defenseman Gerry Burke scored the game-winner with a power-play marker with 4:59 remaining.

Tardif tied the game with 6:58 left in the second period on a rebound. It was Tardif's fifth shot of the period, and he finished with a team-high 11 shots. Tardif, who was named to the ECHL all-star squad on Thursday, has nine goals and 14 assists.

"Most times the best way to get out of a slump is just to put pucks in the net," Tardif said. "We did that and we crashed the net. We finally got the bounces."

Tardif's line mate, Andrew Martin, was placed on the three-day injured reserve list before last night's game.

The same day he was named to the ECHL all-star team, Martin tweaked a groin injury. Martin is tied for second on the team in scoring (eight goals, 12 assists).

"We just need other guys to step up," Tardif said. "We had that tonight."

But the Cyclones scored on their first shot of the game just 2:53 into the contest.

Cincinnati came out with more jump and better scoring opportunities.

"You can't get rattled," Vicari said. "I felt comfortable. We managed to get a few goals and my defense cleared pucks out and did not allow second and third chances."

Cincinnati goalie Chad Collins, who started last season in Toledo, finished with 31 saves.

Exactly two minutes after Tardif's tying marker, Blight's shot hit Collins in the shoulder and fell back behind him in the net. Blight's fifth goal of the season made it 2-1 at the 15:02 mark on the second period.

"I finally got a bounce," Blight said. "It's been 10 games."

"We have the holiday off so we want to go out with a positive attitude," Vicari said. "It's a big game for us."

Toledo hosts idle Johnstown tonight at 7:35 p.m. at the Sports Arena.

NOTES: The team was also forced to put rookie forward Taylor Raszka on the injured reserve list yesterday. Raszka and Koopmans and were placed on the 30-day IR.

"This is the worst I've seen it as far as long term injuries," Vitucci said. "And it's been to the upper echelon players." Cincinnati was awarded with a very questionable 5-on-3 advantage late in the first period. Rookie ref Adam Fish called Jeff Attard for a roughing penalty when he collided with Collins on a breakaway. The collision occurred when both were going for a loose puck. Collins skated out of his crease in a race to get to the puck when he ran into Attard. But Attard was called for the roughing infraction. The Cyclones couldn't capitalize on the two-man advantage that lasted 1:26. Toledo's power play is ranked second to last in the league, but the Storm scored has tallied power play goals in two straight games.

Cincinnati 1 0 1 - 2

Toledo 0 2 1 - 3

First period-1. Cincinnati, Stewart 2 (Ehgoetz, Stewart) 2:53.

Penalties-Blight, T (hooking) 7:34; Deitsch, C (hooking) 11:20; Blight, T (roughing) 14:13; Aubin, C (roughing) 14:13; Zultek, T (interference) 18:39; Attard, T (roughing) 19:13.

Second period-2. Toledo, Tardif 9 (Magowan, Attard) 13:02. 3. Toledo, Blight 5 (unassisted) 15:02.

Penalties- Aubin, C (hooking) 2:55; Deitsch, C (tripping) 6:15; Magowan, T (tripping) 16:42.

Third period-4. Toledo, Burke 1 (Songin, Tardif) 15:01 (pp). 5. Cincinnati, Daoust 8 (Rawlyk, Florek) 16:53.

Penalties-Daoust, C (high sticking) 3:04; Attard, T (slashing) 4:03; Attard, T (game misconduct) 4:03; Stewart, C (hooking) 5:11; Macdonald, C (roughing) 11:40; Magowan, T (cross checking) 11:40; Collins, C (delay of game) 14:57; Walsh, T (charging) 15:58.

Shots on goal-Cincinnati 13-8-9-30; Toledo 8-16-10-34.

Power play opportunities-Cincinnati 1 of 6; Toledo 1 of 6.

Goalies-Cincinnati, Collins (34 shots, 31 saves); Toledo, Vicari (30, 28).

Attendance-3,976.



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