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Published: Sunday, 10/10/2010

3 power-play goals cap Walleye preseason play

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Fans at the Huntington Center for the exhibition contest each won three bowls of chili from Wendy's when Toledo scored three power-play goals. They also were treated to a 7-3 Walleye win over Kalamazoo and saw Toledo complete preseason play with a 2-1 record.

The organization is continuing a promotion which encourages fans to chant, "chili, chili" when the Walleye go on the power play and gives them a coupon for a small bowl if Toledo scores. The announced attendance was 2,110.

"Hey, I think that's great," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said.

Veteran forward Mike Hedden tallied two goals, including the game-winner. He scored a hat trick in Toledo's 4-3 win over Wheeling on Wednesday. Hedden scored five of the Walleye's 12 goals in the preseason. He credited his linemates, Adam Keefe and Scooter Smith, who he also teamed up with last season.

"We clicked last year toward the playoffs and we're just clicking right now," Hedden said. "Our line has connected well and hopefully we'll continue that into the regular season. We're not a pretty line. It's a hardworking, gritty style of hockey."

Evan Rankin and Sal Peralta each had a goal and an assist for Toledo, which opens the regular season Friday at Wheeling. Andy Bohmbach, John May, and Keefe had the other goals.

The Walleye's John May works his way through the Kalamazoo defense to get off a shot Saturday night against the Wings. Toledo opens its season Friday in Kalamazoo. The Walleye's John May works his way through the Kalamazoo defense to get off a shot Saturday night against the Wings. Toledo opens its season Friday in Kalamazoo.
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Toledo trailed 3-2 entering the third period, but erupted with five unanswered goals.

Goalie Jordan Pearce, who was sent down from the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday, will be the team's No. 1 netminder. He stopped 20 shots.

"We wanted to come out and have a good last preseason game," Pearce said. "We want to start off on the right step. I think we played with a lot of heart. The attitude was like it was a regular-season game."

The Wings had crushed Toledo 9-1 Friday in Kalamazoo and held leads of 2-1 and 3-2 Saturday night.

But the Walleye tied it 23 seconds into the third period on May's power-play goal. Hedden then tallied another power-play marker for another bowl of chili and game-winner. Smith assisted on the goal. Rankin and Peralta then scored before Keefe added the seventh.

"I played with Keefer and Scooter last year. We have good chemistry," Hedden said. "We hang out off the ice and we joke around a lot. But we work hard. We're just really starting to read off each other really well."

Vitucci said the line complements each other very well.

"Mikey is a skilled player," Vitucci said. "He has gained our confidence. He will be in a lot of positions to succeed and the whole line will."

The Walleye have five days of preparation before Friday's season opener. Toledo opens its home slate Saturday against the Nailers at 7 p.m. Fewer than 1,000 tickets are available. For more info call 419-725-9255.

"This week they can get familiar with each other on the ice and feel where each other are going to be," Vitucci said. "I feel very comfortable [with the makeup of the roster]."

FISH TALES: Toledo was three of five on the power play. … The ECHL is trying out three new rules in the preseason. The changes, which were tested only at Toledo's three exhibition games, will not be instituted this season. When a team is on the penalty kill, it would no longer be allowed to ice the puck. "The thinking was that the team had done something it was not supposed to and therefore they should not be allowed to do something they normally can't [when at even strength]," said Joe Ernst, the league's director of officiating. Toledo was called for icing on the new rule late in the second period and fans noticed. "Some fans were yelling. Toledo is a good hockey town," Ernst said. Another rule change also involved a hybrid type of icing, while the other involved overtime. Teams would be 3-on-3 if the game went to a double overtime. … Kalamazoo switched goalies midway through the game and Wings goalie Michael Spillane gave up a goal on the first shot he faced.

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6354.



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