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The Toledo Walleye successfully fended off a whopping 10 Cincinnati power plays and used a third-period rally to break a four-game winless streak yesterday at Lucas County Arena.
The Walleye fell behind by a goal once each period, but found a way to tie it every time. Center Chris Robertson tallied two goals, including the game-winner with 1:32 left. Toledo (7-5-3) had just three power plays and was outshot 39-34, but came back to register a 4-3 victory.
The Cyclones (7-7-1) scored two power play goals. The first put them up 1-0 and then they took a 3-2 lead on the other with six seconds left in the second period.
"I thought the shorthanded situations were our best effort," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. "Maybe it was a combination of [the ref] being off and us being off. You have to credit our penalty kill guys and our goaltender. They gave us a chance to win. We'll take the two points but we did not deserve to be in this game."
Former University of Michigan goalie Billy Sauer, who had an impressive collegiate season as a junior, was solid in his Walleye debut with 36 saves. Sauer made nine great stops, most with his team on the penalty kill.
"It was kind of nerve racking at first. But then you get used to it," Sauer said. "It was just, 'Ah, here's another one.' But we killed them well. I don't think you're ever happy letting in three goals. But we still got the win."
Robertson, who missed the first 10 games of the season with a facial injury, scored his first two goals and added an assist.
"This could be a good spark," Robertson said. "It's nice to get points, but it's even better when the team gets the win."
Center Justin Hodgman made a nice pass up to Robertson who broke free up the left wing and fired in the decisive marker to delight the crowd of 4,617.
"It was a great play by Hodgman to find me. I found an opening and just put it in," Robertson said.
Captain Ryan Stokes tied it at 1 in the first period and a fan hurled a huge Walleye on to the ice.
Right winger Evan Rankin scored his team-leading seventh goal to knot it at 3 with 10:51 remaining. After killing the seventh penalty of the night, Adam Hobson took the initial shot and Rankin shoved in the rebound for a power play goal.
Robertson created his own solo, shorthanded breakaway when he got around a Cyclone defender and beat Robert Mayer (30 saves) to tie it at 2 in the second period.
The Walleye staved off an early power play as Sauer came up with good kick and glove saves. Toledo then killed off 1:29 of an interference penalty. But Brock Wilson was then whistled for boarding. The Cyclones capitalized on the two-man advantage as Barret Ehgoetz scored on a one timer that Sauer had no chance on.
The Cyclones went up 2-1 as the Walleye came out flat in the second period, scrambling in their own zone and Ehgoetz notched his second of the game.
"We were lethargic for two periods," Vitucci said. "We had no passion for 40 minutes. We found a way to win. But I'm very concerned with this hockey club."
FISH TALES: In the first high school hockey game to ever be played at Lucas County Arena, Lake defeated Ottawa Hills 6-1 prior to the Walleye game. Three more high school games are scheduled to take place in January and February. … Due to a mic problem, the crowd joined singer Kimesha Williams in an impromptu group rendition of the National Anthem. … RW Derek Nesbitt, who scored two goals in his Walleye debut on Friday, was a scratch yesterday. … Select Walleye players stayed on the ice after the game for a 45-minute open skate session. … Toledo D Sebastien Piche looked to have made the best hit of the season but was whistled for roughing late in the second.
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