When the Storm grabs a lead heading into the final period, a win has been all but guaranteed this season.
Toledo put itself in that prime position again last night, but had to escape this time in overtime with a dramatic 3-2 triumph over Reading.
The team came into the game with a 22-1-0 record when leading after two periods and it seized a 2-0 edge last night. But the Royals answered with two power play goals early in the third period before captain Jason Maleyko netted the game winner with just 11 seconds left in overtime.
It was frustrating when we let them come back, so it was nice to get that one, Maleyko said. We ve been fortunate to be able to keep leads when we get them. So it was just nice to come back and save this one.
Two 23-year-old rookies and a 29-year-old veteran helped put the Storm up early to the delight of an energetic and loud crowd of 3,692 at the Sports Arena.
Defenseman Dinos Stamoulis scored his first professional goal in the first period. Veteran Nick Parillo posted a shorthanded, unassisted marker in the second and rookie goalie Ervins Mustukovs (7-5-0) played brilliantly, finishing with 37 saves.
That was as good as it gets tonight, Storm coach Nick Vitucci said.
It was a loud, boisterous crowd. They have been an important part of our success. We give them a reason to celebrate and they helped us come back so we all could celebrate.
Maleyko one-timed a perfect pass from Andrew Martin to end it.
It was two points that we desperately needed, said Malekyo, who called a players-only meeting on Wednesday when the team was on a three-game winless streak.
It was game 63 and we were still making the same mistakes. We were really low after those two losses. Now we need to keep the momentum going.
After losing two straight, Toledo (35-28-2) has now won two in a row and is three points out of first place.
A week ago we were fighting for a playoff spot, Parillo said. Now we re battling for first.
Stamoulis was credited with the opening goal when his shot deflected off Reading defenseman Shawn Germain and got by Jeff Pietrasiak.
Stamoulis, who just finished a four-year career at Providence College, tallied his first marker 14:10 into the contest.
Parillo took advantage of a fluky bounce in the second period to make it 2-0. The puck bounced off the boards behind the net and hopped out to Parillo, who slammed it home.
We call that the Sports Arena bounce, Parillo said. We practice drills like that. So I was ready for that bounce.
But Reading s John Snowden capitalized on a two-man advantage when he scored 2:11 into the third period. Brett Smith also scored on the power play 4:17 later to tie it up.
Toledo mounted a furious rally late in regulation, but it went to sudden death. Chris Blight had four shots in OT before assisting on the winner.
[Mustukovs] made save after save and was fantastic tonight, Vitucci said.
Contact Mark Monroe at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6110.