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Walleye watch lead slip away in loss

Walleye-s-Christopher-DiDomenico-gets-control-of-the-puck

Toledo Walleye player Christopher DiDomenico, 24, gets control of the puck as he battles Cincinnati Cyclones player Brent Clarke, 25, during the second period at Huntington Center, Friday.

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The Walleye built a two-goal lead over Cincinnati and dominated in shots on Friday night but two late penalty calls against Toledo led to confusion and a loss.

Toledo grabbed a 3-1 lead after the first period on goals from Joey Martin, Trevor Parkes, and Aaron Lewicki. The Cyclones scored three unanswered goals over the final two periods to take a 4-3 win before a crowd of 5,063 at the Huntington Center.

PHOTO GALLERY: Walleye fall to Cyclones

Martin looked to have scored his second of the night to give Toledo a 4-3 lead midway through the third. But referee T.J. Luxmore called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Walleye coach Nick Vitucci just before Martin's goal. The bench penalty negated the potential winning goal.

Later in the period, Luxmore assessed Toledo with a five-minute match penalty when Brian Matte was called for slew-footing. The rare penalty, which is called when a player uses his foot to knock an opponent's feet from under him while also pushing him backward to the ice, was issued at the end of a fight between Matte and Joe Devin.

Less than a minute later, Garrett Wilson scored a power-play goal for the winner with 6:59 left.

"A head scratcher is the prefect description," Vitucci said. "I'm dumbfounded right now by some of the things that went on out there."

The Walleye (9-11-0) outshot the Cyclones 36-16.

Goalie Thomas McCollum, who made his first start for Toledo since Nov. 5, finished with 12 saves. McCollum made a critical save to keep it tied at 3 on a Cincinnati solo breakaway early in the third.

Toledo had also killed off five Cincinnati power play chances, including a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 1:30 in the second period. The Cyclones (7-7-3) converted on their sixth of the night.

"That's a pretty frustrating loss," McCollum said. "Honestly I don't know how he called [the slew-foot]. I thought they were wrestling and one guy's ankle buckled and he fell. I wish I could explain it."

There also was confusion after Martin made a nice move to apparently put Toledo up by a goal late in the game.

"The whistle blew before it went in because I was yelling at the linesman," Vitucci said. "[Their player] put a choke hold on one of my players. So I got in the linesman's grill about it. It was very frustrating the officials end up being the deciding factor."

The Walleye had a power play over the final two minutes of the game and Vitucci pulled McCollum for a two-man advantage.

Toledo could not get another by Brian Foster (33 saves).

The game marked the end of eight consecutive home games for Toledo as the Walleye finished 5-3-0. Toledo travels to Cincinnati on Saturday night for a rematch at 7:35 p.m. with the Cyclones.

Martin, who returned to the Walleye lineup on Friday after a call up to the American Hockey League, scored on a nice individual effort to give Toledo a 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal with 10:27 left in the first.

Parkes made it 2-0 with assists from Martin and Kyle Rogers with 8:36 left in the first period. Since joining the Walleye from the AHL on Nov. 28, Parkes has four goals in four games.

The Cyclones pulled within 2-1 as Anthony Luciani scored off of his own rebound with 6:09 left in first period. McCollum made a nice save on the first shot but couldn't stop the second.

Toledo regained a two-goal lead on Lewicki's long shot that got past Foster with just 23.2 seconds left in the first.

Cincinnati suddenly tied it at 3 with goals from Michael Pelech and Justin Vaive 27 seconds apart. Luxmore initially ruled no goal on Cincinnati's second goal because Pelech looked like he had kicked the puck in the net. Luxmore consulted with the linesmen and ruled it a good goal that made it 3-2 Toledo with 8:04 left in the second.

FISH TALES: Every Walleye player except Ryan Blair had at least one shot on goal. … Toledo is 2-2-0 against the Cyclones this season. … Martin returned from a player tryout agreement with the Houston Aeros. Martin, a rookie forward, had scored four goals and had five assists in 15 games before being called up to the AHL. Martin collected one goal in his four games with the Aeros. … Pelech played in 10 games for Toledo before being traded to Cincinnati on Nov.23.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com, 419-724-6354, or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.


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