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Published: Sunday, 12/13/2009

Walleye take fight-filled game

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Toledo Walleye scored three unanswered goals in a span of 3:18 in the third period to instantly turn a 1-0 deficit into a late lead and parlayed that into a wild 5-1 win over Elmira last night.

Chris Robertson tied it up, Sebastien Piche tallied the game winner, and Mike Hedden cushioned the lead to the delight of a near sellout crowd of 7,023 at Lucas County Arena.

The Jackals pulled their goalie with 2:05 left and Maxime Tanguay notched an empty netter. Ryan Stokes then scored a power play goal just 18 seconds later for the final margin.

The Walleye (11-10-4) scored five straight unanswered goals over the final

16:37 and have now won two straight after dropping three in a row. Four different fights then broke out late in the game that turned nasty, setting up an interesting rematch today.

"I think we outplayed them for 60 minutes, and they got frustrated," Robertson said. "We buried our chances when we got them. I was happy to get the boys going."

Toledo outshot the Jackals 39-24, including 20-6 in the final period.

"If we take care of our defensive end, this team has the [offensive] ability to win a lot of games," coach Nick Vitucci said. "They happened to come in bunches tonight. It's an upswing. It's a long season with peaks and valleys. We're coming out of a deep peak."

Walleye goalie Alec Richards (6-3-3) gave up a goal less than two minutes in but was steady and finished with 23 saves.

Robertson, who had a goal and an assist, now has nine assists and five goals in his last 11 games. He scored on a great pass from the corner by Justin Hodgman. Robertson's slap shot beat Pier-Olivier Pelletier (34 saves) to tie it.

Just 2:05 later, Piche scored his first goal to give the Walleye a

2-1 edge. Piche skated in from the corner and slid the puck between Pelletier's legs.

"[Robertson's] goal gave us hope. It proved their goalie wasn't invincible," Piche said. "They tried to intimidate us. But we'll just focus on our style and finish checks. It could be a zoo [today]."

Only 1:13 after Piche's goal, Hedden's blast made it 3-1 as Toledo scored goals on two straight shots.

"We know we've got the talent and that goals will come," Hedden said. "We've been on a bumpy road, but hopefully we'll get on a streak. There could be fireworks [today]."

A huge brawl broke out with

4:21 left. Toledo's Dominic Osman first squared off with Chanse Fitzpatrick. Then Elmira's Guillaume Lepine went after Joe Charlebois. Walleye defenseman J.C. Sawyer then battled with Joe Grimaldi. Minutes before that, Toledo's Malcolm MacMillan fought with Brett Gallant. Four game misconducts were called.

The Jackals then became infuriated when a goal that would have made it 3-2 was called off for a too many men on the ice penalty with less than two minutes left.

Toledo had dropped six of 10 and three of four. Elmira had lost seven of its last 10.

The Jackals took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal just 1:55 into the game. Richards was left shaking his head as a deflected puck found its way in on the Jackals' first shot.

Toledo was outshot 11-7 after one period. But the Walleye stepped up in the second period and held a 19-8 edge.

FISH TALES: Prior to the game former U.S. Olympic hero and Goaldigger Mike Eruzione received a standing ovation when he dropped the ceremonial first puck. … Elmira coach Steve Martinson played for the Goaldiggers (1981-83 and 1984-85). … Toledo F Adam Hobson, who is ranked second on the team in scoring with 24 points (11 G, 13 A), was scratched from the lineup due to a groin injury. … Elmira's second-leading scorer Tyler Donati (31 points) was a scratch last night. … It was the first time a Toledo team had played a team from Elmira. The teams will meet four more times this season beginning today. … A fish was thrown on the ice after it looked like Toledo had scored its first goal late in the first period. But it was ruled no goal because Evan Rankin illegally batted the puck into the net with his hand.

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6354.



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