Toledo Walleye defenseman Joe Charlebois scored twice, and goalie Jordan Pearce notched his first professional shutout last night at a packed Lucas County Arena.
Charlebois scored in the second and third periods and Pearce finished with 36 saves as Toledo blanked Kalamazoo 3-0 before a capacity crowd of 8,200.
Evan Rankin added an empty netter with 2.5 seconds left as the Walleye (26-20-4) broke a four-game losing streak. Malcolm MacMillan assisted on all three goals.
Pearce held Kalamazoo to no goals on six power play chances, including three man advantages in the third period when he made 17 saves.
"It's nice because a couple of times I've had shutouts going in the third period and gave up some late goals," Pearce said. "I just felt good and I was seeing the puck well. The guys did a great job in front of me."
Pearce (10-11-1) had eight shutouts as a senior at Notre Dame last season.
"We really needed the win, especially against Kalamazoo who we will be battling for a playoff spot," he said.
The teams are in a three-way tie for second with Wheeling in the North Division and will meet again at 4 p.m. in Kalamazoo today.
For Charlebois, it was just his second and third goals of the season. It also marked a career-high for goals in a season for Charlebois. He scored two in his freshman season at the University of New Hampshire in 2005-06. The stay-at-home defenseman said it was his first multiple goal game "going all the way back to squirts."
"The puck just wanted to go in for me tonight," Charlebois said. "It feels great. I tried to just keep it simple and be strong defensively. If I can chip in a few goals, I'll take it."
Pearce made two good saves to prevent a Wings' power play goal late in the second. Four minutes into the third, Pearce then stopped Rick Cleaver on a breakaway.
Charlebois then notched his second of the night with a long slap shot from just inside the blue line that deflected off a Wings' player 5:02 into the third period.
Pearce made a blocker save and then a glove save at the midpoint of the third to prevent a power play goal. He then made a poke check with 2:32 to maintain the shutout.
With 47 seconds left, Pearce made two more solid saves with the Wings' goalie pulled.
"I'm pleased but I'm not shocked," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. "He's a good young goaltender. That was a great performance."
Charlebois scored a power play goal on a terrific pass across the top of the crease from MacMillan in the second period. "I give Mac all the credit on that one," Charlebois said.
The Walleye were playing without three of their top six scorers. Leading scorer Maxime Tanguay, Adam Hobson, and Derek Nesbitt have all been called up to Rockford.
"We needed this especially with the way our roster is now," Vitucci said. "It was a good gut check."
FISH TALES: The 8,200 tied for the highest attendance total (Dec. 27). …A total of 174,390 fans have attended 29 games at Lucas County Arena. Last night, the organization broke the Toledo Storm's single season-record of 173,601 set in 1998-99. … MacMillan fired high on a solo breakaway on Wings' goalie Jeremy Duchesne (21 saves) with three minutes left in the scoreless first.