WHEELING, W. Va. — The Toledo Walleye’s ECHL playoff hopes were dashed by Wheeling’s Brandon DeFazio Thursday night.
The Nailer forward scored with 2:51 remaining in the third period to give Wheeling the 5-4 victory, ending a furious Toledo rally in which the Walleye (32-32-6) tied the contest up at 4 after trailing 4-0 early in the second period.
“Falling behind has been our nemesis all season long,” said coach Nick Vitucci. “Teams are too good in this league to come back on night in night out.
“These guys never quit and I am so proud of how much they battled in this game.”
The loss eliminates Toledo from contention for the final Kelly Cup Playoffs spot, allowing Elmira and Cincinnati to claim the final two spots instead.
Wheeling scored three goals in the first period and added a fourth just 6:40 into the second before Sebastien Piche and Mike Hedden scored in the stanza in which the Walleye outshot the Nailers 14-8.
They continued to apply pressure as Randy Rowe and Andy Bohmbach scored in the third, with Bohmbach’s tally coming with 6:48 left.
Toledo’s Joe Palmer made 28 saves in the loss.
It was his first start since Feb. 27. Palmer has a 9-13-1 record on the season in 26 games played.
Toledo finishes its home portion of the schedule Friday night as they host Elmira at 7 p.m.