Following a wild first 12 minutes of play that included six goals, the Toledo Walleye took a step backward Friday night.
Toledo and Reading combined for six goals before some of the 6,030 fans had even found their seats at Lucas County Arena. The teams each scored three goals.
But it was all Reading the rest of the way as the Royals scored four unanswered goals to drop Toledo 7-3. Reading (1-1-1) scored two goals in the second and two in the third. Toledo (2-2-0) outshot the Royals 35-22 but fell for the second time this season to end a modest two-game win streak.
“We turned the puck over a million times, and we were very lethargic all over the ice,”
Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “We were down all night. I thought the identity we created and earned last week we eliminated so far this weekend. We've got to go back out and put up a lot more effort [tonight against Trenton].”
Toledo goalie Jordan Pearce (1-1-0) did not look sharp, giving up seven goals on 22 shots.
“It was a rough night for everyone, including Jordan,” Vitucci said. “It was just one of those nights that you can't just pinpoint one thing.”
Toledo wingers Mike Hedden and Evan Rankin notched their first professional goals in the frenetic first period. Defenseman J.C. Sawyer also scored for Toledo.
Reading's Andrew Sarauer converted on a penalty shot opportunity with 1:22 left in the second period to put his team up 5-3. Sarauer looked to have embellished a hook from behind by Rankin when he was going in for a shot and instead fell to the ice.
“I did not see it good enough, but it sounded like he got the stick and puck first,” Vitucci said. “It's the ref's judgment. It may have been right or wrong.”
Sarauer then beat Pearce on his stick side.
“At the end of the day the ref makes the call and it's frustrating,” Toledo captain Ryan Stokes said. “That kind of took the wind out of the sails. In the third we came out flat, and they popped another one in early, and from there it's hard to battle back.”
Stefano Giliati and Nicholas Bilotto iced it for Reading, which got 32 saves from Kevin Regan.
“We need to keep it simple, and we need to work harder in our d-zone,” Stokes said.
Sawyer took up right where he left off on Sunday when he tallied the game-winner. He scored 3:25 into the game.
Reading answered 34 seconds later, however, as Charles Kronschnabel scored. The Royals grabbed the lead less than two minutes later when Ben McLeod tipped in a one timer.
But Toledo tied it at 2 on a great assist from Malcolm MacMillan, who passed between his legs out front to Hedden, who backhanded it by Regan. Reading, however, again seized a one-goal advantage 21 seconds later.
It took Toledo 2:35 to strike back when Rankin scored to make it 3-3. The Walleye scored on three of 13 shots, while the Royals tallied three goals on nine shots.
“Even that was caused by a lot of junk,” Vitucci said. “There were mistakes by both teams that resulted in scoring opportunities.”
Toledo, which went 0 for 4 on the power play, hosts Trenton tonight at 7.
“That's the beauty of it,” Vitucci said. “We're a new team and it's a young season. There will be stumbles as we go, and this was a bit of a setback.”
FISH TALES: Reading's Scott Fletcher got the best of Toledo's Hedden in a fight late in the game. MacMillan and Scott Langdon then got into another brawl in the game's waning moments. … It took Toledo just 13 seconds to take the first shot (Rankin). … An octopus was hurled onto the ice after Toledo's second goal. … Stokes got his first point of the season, an assist in the first.
Contact Mark Monroe at:email@example.com or 419-724-6354.