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Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 1/14/2012

Walleye snap skid, blank Nailers

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Toledo's top producers injected some life into the floundering Walleye on Friday night.

Rookie Joey Martin and captain Kyle Rogers led Toledo out of a six-game losing skid backed up by a shutout from goalie Rob Nolan. Martin and Rogers, the team's leading scorers, paced the Walleye's offensive effort with two points apiece.

Nolan earned his first win in a Toledo uniform as the Walleye blanked the Wheeling Nailers 3-0.

Toledo won for the first time since Dec. 27 before a crowd of 6,276 at the Huntington Center. Martin scored two goals, while Rogers had a goal and an assist.

"We've gone a long time here not feeling good about ourselves," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. "It feels great. It was an all-out team effort. This is a big win for a lot of reasons. Sometimes a win just erases any doubts you have. It is certainly a feel good win for this hockey club."

Martin opened the scoring in the first period with a power play goal before Rogers made it 2-0 with 4:43 left in the second period. Martin tallied his second of the night late in the middle period.

"Obviously this was a real big win tonight because we were on a losing streak," Martin said. "Tonight we earned it. We tried to stay positive. It is a big confidence booster for everyone. Hopefully we can get rolling now."

Nolan, who started in his fifth straight game after being acquired in a trade on Jan. 4, finished with 19 saves to earn his first shutout of the season.

"This is overdue from where I stand," Nolan said. "I haven't been playing very well, and it felt great to get a good one tonight. The guys were efficient in front of me. I get more comfortable every game."

Martin and Rogers, who are linemates, each have 22 points this season.

"We don't look too much at that," Rogers said. "It's fun though. Maybe it is a little bit of competition. In the end it's all for good fun. We're out there pushing each other and it's paying off."

Martin extended his goal-scoring streak to three games. He has 11 goals and 11 assists, while Rogers has nine goals and 13 assists.

Defenseman Phil Rauch had two assists for the Walleye, who outshot Wheeling 33-19. The Nailers defeated Toledo 3-2 in OT on Wednesday, but Vitucci said it was the team's best effort in a long time.

"This was a continuation of our game in Wheeling," Vitucci said. "It was a hard-earned point and an injection for our hockey team after a tough skid. To get three out of four points from them is a big accomplishment for a team that is struggling recently."

Toledo improved to 14-18-2 and 9-10-1 at home.

Martin's first goal came with four seconds left on a Toledo power play.

Martin had a goal and an assist against Wheeling on Wednesday.

Rogers gave the Walleye a 2-0 lead on an assist by Andrej Nestrasil that set up a two on one breakaway. Rogers scored on a perfectly placed shot to the stick side of Wheeling goalie Patrick Killeen (30 saves) with 4:43 left in the second period.

Just 3:31 later, Martin scored his second of the night. He collected a big rebound and beat Killeen for a 3-0 Walleye edge.

"The combination of Martin and Rogers and whoever they play with has been fantastic," Vitucci said.

Nolan made a terrific glove save to maintain the 1-0 lead for Toledo with 12:14 left in the middle period.

"Nolan was big when he had to be," Vitucci said. "It was good that he got that under his belt too because he's been fighting it and questioning his abilities."

Toledo embarks on a home and home series with Kalamazoo as the Walleye travel to Michigan to play the K-Wings at 7:30 Saturday night. The teams meet again at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Huntington Center.

"I want to follow up with a really good performance on [Saturday night] and then finish it out on Sunday at home," Nolan said.

FISH TALES: Toledo native Joe Tolles was in the lineup for Wheeling. Tolles played his youth hockey for the Toledo Junior Storm at the Sports Arena. Tolles, 23, is in his second season of pro hockey. Tolles was called for a tripping penalty late in the game and didn't have a point. … The opening period has been the Walleye's best. They've outscored opponents 29-26. They are 10-9-1 in games when they score first. … Despite the recent woes, an average of 5,714 fans had packed the Huntington Center coming into Friday night's game. There have been four sellouts and a total of 108,562 fans have attended the 19 home games … The Walleye had five shots on the first power play of the game. Toledo outshot the Nailers 13-6 in the first period. … Toledo is now 10-1-1 when leading after two periods. … The teams meet three times in the next nine games. … Toledo's Matt Krug squared off with Chris Clark in a fight in which neither landed any big shots late in the first period. Krug came up with a huge hit at the start of the third period. … Rogers said the team played "a great 60 minutes" on Wednesday and it carried over. "Everyone stepped up to the plate," Rogers said. "Nolan played a great game. It was a great atmosphere out there. It's huge heading into K-Zoo and back home on Sunday."

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



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