Toledo trailed Kalamazoo throughout most of the game but veteran Mike Hedden scored with 10:12 left and the game went to overtime tied at 1. After the scoreless OT, the K-Wings scored first in the shootout. But defenseman Jason Lepine, who was the Walleye's fourth skater, scored on a beautiful backhander.
Coetzee then sent the 8,000 fans into a frenzy with the game winner as Toledo surged to a 2-1 win. Coetzee made three moves before beating Kalamazoo goalie Ryan Nie, who was spectacular throughout the game.
"I like being the go-to guy in pressure situations," Coetzee said. "It's fun. It's a situation where you can help the boys out. The crowd was roaring. It's a good feeling to win in this barn in that atmosphere. I just happened to be that guy tonight. But everyone deserved that win."
Kalamazoo scored first in the shootout on Darryl Lloyd's roof shot. Lepine and Coetzee responded for Toledo (24-22-4). The dramatic win capped a night when legends of Toledo's past pro teams were honored.
"It really was a thriller," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. "It was a performance worthy of all the hockey people from years gone by that were in the building. The crowd was into it. I'm sure they left feeling that it was a great night of entertainment."
Vitucci said the team practices the shootout a couple times each week.
Goalie Jimmy Spratt stopped four of five skaters in the shootout.
"I've had some success in them and I don't mind them at all," said Spratt, who finished with 27 saves. "It was exciting for the fans and it was a great atmosphere."
The standing-room-only crowd had to wait until about 10 minutes were left to celebrate a goal because Nie stood on his head in the K-Wings' net. He finished with 42 saves.
Hedden finally solved Nie when he skated out from behind the net and lifted a backhander past Nie, who had a shutout with 33 stops at that point.
"It was the Ryan Nie show for the majority of the game," Vitucci said.
Toledo forward Evan Rankin had three incredible chances from in close in the waning moments of the third period. The crowd was on its feet several times as the Walleye also had a multitude of opportunities late in OT. Spratt also came up with a kick save to keep it tied in OT.
Toledo outshot Kalamazoo 44-28, including 21-5 in the second and 4-2 in OT.
The Walleye improved to .500 at home (12-12-3).
Vitucci called it a hardworking, 65-minute effort. His team remains in last in the North Division. But Toledo could pull even with the K-Wings Sunday when they meet in Kalamazoo at 4 p.m.
"We had an hour-long meeting before this game to go over our expectations. Tonight we played to our potential," Vitucci said.
Kalamazoo took an early 1-0 lead when Lloyd scored on a long rebound with 12:31 left in the first period. Toledo's Kyle Rogers looked like he had scored early the first period. But his shot deflected off the cross bar.
The Walleye are back at home on Wednesday to host Wheeling.
FISH TALES: Hedden got into a brief fight with Jon Landry late in the second period. Landry put Hedden in a headlock shortly after a Kalamazoo save which prompted the scuffle. …The team only has 10 home games remaining. …The Walleye players wore vintage Toledo Mercurys jerseys that were auctioned off after the game with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. … Toledo could not capitalize on a two-man advantage that lasted 52 seconds in the second period. The Walleye did not have a shot on goal during the 5-on-3. The team managed just one shot on the two power plays and went 0 of 3 last night. …Toledo just missed getting on the board when Zach Torquato got free on a solo breakaway early second. But Nie came out of his net and stopped Torquato. Moments later, Torquato hit the post. …The Walleye created some quality chances late in the second, but Nie made a spectacular save to protect his team's one-goal lead. …Spratt made two high quality saves early in the third period and also made a nice save just one minute into the first. … Two huge walleyes were hurled onto the ice after Hedden's goal. … Toledo is now 5-16-1 when trailing after one period.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6354.