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Published: Sunday, 4/4/2010

Walleye get Charlotte in first round of playoffs

BY MRK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Toledo will face ECHL American Conference champion Charlotte in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs.

The Walleye will tangle with the Checkers in the postseason opener on Tuesday at Lucas County Arena at 7 p.m. Toledo will then host Charlotte in game 2 of the best-of-five series on Wednesday at 7.

Toledo posted a 3-2-0 record against the Checkers (43-21-7) this season.

Charlotte rallied to beat Florida last night to clinch the top seed.

Toledo (35-30-7) finished with the eighth and final seed after losing 3-2 to Kalamazoo last night.

Reading remained ahead of the Walleye and claimed the seventh seed with a 8-4 win over Trenton last night.

The Walleye could not hold a 2-0 lead they built early in the second period against Kalamazoo. Anthony Perdicaro and Kyle Page each scored their first professional goals.

But the Wings rallied with three unanswered goals to win.

Andrew Fournier scored the game-winner for Kalamazoo (42-20-10) with 2:49 left in the game. Fournier threw a pass in front of the Toledo net that went off of defenseman J.C. Sawyer's skates and through the legs of goalie Jordan Pearce.

Seventy-two ECHL games were played this season, and it came down to the third period of the final contest of the regular season to determine the playoff scenario.

Charlotte trailed Florida 3-1 in the third period but came back to tie it to earn a 94th point. Kalamazoo and South Carolina also tied the Checkers with 94 points. But Charlotte won the tiebreaker with the most overall wins (43).

Toledo travels to Charlotte for Game 3 on Friday. If necessary, the final two games would be played next Sunday and Monday in Charlotte.

Last night, it took Toledo just 47 seconds to get on the board as Perdicaro scored his first goal.

Perdicaro, who appeared in his 10th game, scored on the first shot of the game. J.C. Sawyer and Mark Nebus earned the assists.

Perdicaro scored with a wrist shot from the left circle.

Page then scored with a shot from the blue line just 1:52 into the second period. Page, a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University, scored a power play goal in his 12th game.

Jonathan Carlsson and Scooter Smith assisted on the marker that gave the Walleye a 2-0 lead.

But Kalamazoo scored with 13 seconds left in the second period to pull within one. The Wings then tied it 6:27 into the third period.

Pearce (15-16-2) finished with 33 saves on 36 shots. Wings goaltender Ryan Nie had finished with 32 saves on 34 shots.

Kalamazoo took the season series with a 7-6-0 record against the Walleye.

Kalamazoo also clinched the North Division title with the comeback victory. It was the second straight night that the Wings defeated the Walleye.

"I really liked the effort we gave these past two nights," coach Nick Vitucci said. "To lose both of these games was a shame. I can't complain about our effort."

Single-game tickets for the post-season are $17. Tickets for seniors and children (12-and-under) are $15. Tickets can be purchased at the Lucas County Arena box office, by phone at 419-725-WALL, or online at www.toledowalleye.com.



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