Nick Vitucci says the Storm has been playing playoff-style hockey during its four-game winning streak. The coach also calls Toledo s two games this weekend must wins.
The Storm takes plenty of momentum into an ECHL North Division playoff semifinal that begins Friday at the Sports Arena.
Toledo is on a four-game winning streak that also ensured the team would have home ice advantage against Cincinnati.
Now we just have to remember what we did to get here, Storm coach Nick Vitucci said. We ve been playing playoff-style hockey and we have to keep playing hard, smart, physical hockey.
Toledo, which captured the second seed, had a losing record against the third-seeded Cyclones (4-6-0) this season. But all four wins came at the Sports Arena.
The best-of-five semifinal series begins Friday at 7:35 p.m. at One Main Street. It continues Saturday at the Sports Arena.
These two games are must wins, Vitucci said.
The series then moves to Cincinnati on Thursday, April 19.
Vitucci has set his 23-man roster for the playoffs and it includes three players that are still with American Hockey League clubs. Ken Magowan, Jamie Tardif and Evan McGrath were among the Storm s leading scorers before being called up.
McGrath and Tardif are with Grand Rapids and Magowan is playing for Bridgeport. None of the three will rejoin the Storm until their AHL teams are eliminated from the playoffs.
Magowan and Tardif still rank among the top 10 in scoring on the team.
I spoke with Kenny and Jamie and they both said they d love to come back and help us out once they are done up there, Vitucci said. That just shows the kind of character those guys have. They both have been playing well.
Defenseman Dan Watson, who has been on the injured reserve list since March 30, will play on Friday. Watson missed the final six games of the regular season with an upper body injury.
He s going to hold off on surgery, Vitucci said.
Goalie Dominic Vicari, who had knee surgery last month, was left off of the playoff roster. Vicari last played March 7 and remains on the 30-day injured reserve list.
Veteran center Brent Sullivan, who had three goals and four assists in 21 games, is expected to be released today.
It was hard to let him go, Vitucci said. Brent came in and did every thing we asked.
Gritty defenseman Paul Crosty, who is ranked second on the team in penalty minutes (131) despite playing in just 34 games, also was not added to the postseason roster. Crosty is playing for Manchester in the AHL and has 120 PIMs in 28 games.
Defenseman P.J. Martin was re-signed, but was placed on the injured reserve. Martin, who left the team last month to start a job in North Carolina, could be activated later in the playoffs.
He will try to play weekends for us, Vitucci said. He s been such a big part of the team the past few years.
If necessary, a fourth game will be played on Friday, April 20, in Cincinnati and the series could head back to Toledo on Sunday, April 22, at 5 p.m.
Dayton, the No. 1 seed and champion of the North Division, is awaiting the winner of a miniseries between Trenton and Johnstown. That series wraps up on Thursday and the semifinals series starts on Sunday.
We have the home-ice advantage so we should have the confidence, Vitucci said.
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