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oledo Walleye player Kyle Rogers (17) is knocked to the ice  Toledo Walleye player Kyle Rogers (17) is knocked to the ice by Greenville Road Warriors player Jeff Prough (8) during the second period at Huntington Center.
Toledo Walleye player Kyle Rogers (17) is knocked to the ice by Greenville Road Warriors player Jeff Prough (8) during the second period at Huntington Center.
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Published: Sunday, 1/8/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

First-period woes haunt Walleye in 4th straight loss

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Just when it seemed like things couldn't get any worse for the Walleye, Toledo played one of its worst periods of the season, and could not recover on Saturday night.

Toledo fell behind Greenville 3-0 after a first period in which the Road Warriors completely carried the play. The Walleye got a goal from Jeremy Tucker in the second period but Greenville went on to post a 4-1 victory before a crowd of 6,525 at the Huntington Center.

GALLERY: Toledo Walleye vs. Greenville

The Walleye (13-17-1) have now lost a season-high four in a row and remain in last place in the ECHL North Division.

"Going down 3-0 with the state of mind of our hockey club was not what the doctor ordered," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. "We are learning right now it's a lot harder to dig out of a hole than it is to fall in it. We are certainly are in it and were trying to climb our way out. We just need things to go our way."

In a lopsided first period, the Walleye were outshot 11-3. It was the lowest number of shots Toledo has had in one period this season.

"It's pretty tough," defenseman Kyle Page said. "It's like you're in quicksand. It seems no matter how hard you work, it's frustrating. But you have to have thick skin in this game and put it behind you. The bottom line is we have to play 60 minutes."

The Walleye got on the board when Tucker scored his first goal of the season on an assist from David Toews 5:28 into the middle period. Tucker, who was acquired on Dec. 29, has played in nine ECHL games over the last two seasons.

"Anytime you score it is good but ultimately you want the team to be successful," Tucker said. "So it's bittersweet."

Walleye goalie Rob Nolan, playing in his second game for Toledo, finished with 24 saves.

Connor Shields, Marc-Olivier Vallerand, Jeremy Gouchie, and Brandon Wong scored for the Road Warriors (19-12-2), and goalie Bryan Hince finished with 24 saves. Brendan Connolly had three assists -- all in the first period.

Greenville scored on the first shot of the game. Shields' power play goal came 3:10 in after a weak boarding call was whistled against Matt Krug.

The Road Warriors took a 2-0 lead as Vallerand scored right in front of Nolan after Greenville applied steady pressure in the Walleye end.

"I think Rob would like to have a couple back that got by him," Vitucci said.

Greenville made it 3-0 with a shorthanded goal as Toledo allowed a 2-on-1 breakaway and Gouchie capitalized. Boos rained down as Greenville scored on three of its first five shots.

"I don't pay attention to that and I never have," Vitucci said.

With 11:22 left and Toledo down 3-1, Toews hit the post. Wong sealed it with an even strength goal with 8:45 left to make it 4-1.

Vitucci said Tucker is outperforming many of his more highly touted teammates.

"Jeremy Tucker came in as a fill-in guy, and he is outworking half of our hockey club. We need guys to make things happen," Vitucci said. "They are learning to be pros, and they are learning the hard way."

Page said he and the other veterans called a players' only meeting before the game.

"Collectively we're trying to come together. We need to get on the same page. We need to keep it simple," Page said.

Toledo is 1 of 12 on the power play in its last two games. The Walleye also fell behind Trenton 3-0 on Friday night and lost 5-2.

"We made it very difficult for ourselves," Tucker said. "But with the talent level we have in the this locker room we have the ability to win every game."

FISH TALES: The teams had 28 shots apiece. … After Tucker's goal, the Walleye were able to mount some sustained pressure and it resulted in a power play. Toledo got three shots on the man advantage but could not beat Hince. With 2:17 left in the second period, the puck rolled along the Road Warriors' goal line but did not cross it. … Something went right at the Huntington Center on Saturday as a woman said yes to a marriage proposal.

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



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