CHARLOTTE - Toledo Walleye right winger Evan Rankin became a goal-scoring machine early yesterday morning.
Rankin tallied five goals in Toledo's 7-0 rout of Charlotte in a game that started at midnight. Rankin took over the team lead with 26 goals as he collected the Walleye's first five of the game. The forward scored twice in the first period, twice in the second, and lit the lamp again in the third.
Toledo goaltender Jordan Pearce made 33 saves for his second professional shutout. Pearce (11-12-1) has notched shutouts in two of his last three starts.
It was the largest margin of victory this season for Toledo (28-21-4). Joe Charlebois and Derek Nesbitt also scored goals, and Maxime Tanguay finished with four assists.
"Wow, did we have some terrific jump right out of the gate," coach Nick Vitucci said. "It's a great reminder of how good this team can be offensively."
Rankin is the second player in Toledo professional hockey history to score five goals in a game. Former Storm forward Mark Deazeley scored five times on Feb. 16, 1994, against Huntsville. Another Storm player, Brad McCaughey, holds the record for goals in a game. McCaughey scored six times against Columbus on Nov. 6, 1991.
Rankin scored 2:35 into the game as his one-timer from Tanguay beat Checkers goalie Ryan Munce. Rankin scored again at 8:37 on a wrist shot. Nesbitt then made it 3-0 with less than five minutes left in the first.
Toledo scored three more times in the second. Rankin notched his second hat trick of the season at the 3:00 mark as he tapped in a rebound. Charlebois made it 5-0 with a power play goal. Rankin scored his fourth goal as he roofed a one-timer past Munce.
Rankin racked up his fifth goal at 16:27 of the third as he fired in a Tanguay pass.
The Walleye have won two straight and moved into second place in the North Division, but they are still 10 points behind first-place Cincinnati.
The Walleye travel to South Carolina to take on the Stingrays at 7:05 tonight. Toledo is 0-1-1 against South Carolina. The teams meet again tomorrow at 4 p.m. in South Carolina.
After playing a sixth straight road game next Friday, Toledo returns home Saturday for a 7 p.m. against Gwinnett.
- Mark Monroe