Just when it looked like it couldn’t get any worse for the Walleye, things got embarrassingly out of hand in a wacky eight-goal loss on Sunday afternoon.
Toledo goalie Alec Richards faced a shooting gallery from Kalamazoo before a displeased crowd of 6,277 at the Huntington Center. The Wings consistently found the back of the net in a head shaking 9-1 thumping.
“Embarrassing,” coach Nick Vitucci said. “There is nothing to say. You can’t even learn off of this. We were that bad.”
Richards faced 34 shots through two periods and yielded four goals. He was pulled from the game to start the third period.
“We just stood around and watched every shot that was taken at him,” Vitucci said.
Kalamazoo preceeded to score on two of its first three shots of the third period on replacement goaltender Dustin Carlson.
The Wings added three more on Richards, who came back into the game. They scored five goals on their first nine shots of the third period.
“I decided to put Richie back in,” Vitucci said. “You certainly don’t want to do that in that situation but I didn’t want to lose 15-0 either.”
Kalamazoo peppered the net with 45 shots overall. It was the most shots Toledo has given up this season.
The nine goals yielded tied for the most given up in franchise history. Trenton scored nine goals on March 10, 2010.
Kalamazoo’s Dustin Cloutier had a hat trick and two assists, while Trent Daavettila scored twice for the Wings (35-23-8). Bryan Haczyk and Darren Archibald each had three assists.
The Walleye (28-32-6) have now lost four of their last six games. The team’s playoff chances got even bleaker with six games left.
Something went right for Toledo early in the third period as Paul Cianfrini scored his first goal in a Walleye uniform. Cianfrini, who was playing in his 13th game after signing as a free agent on Feb. 23, made the score 6-1 with 15:24 left.
“That was a big deal for sure. But all the other stuff that happened overshadowed that,” Cianfrini said. “I’m not sure what went wrong but we left Richie out to dry. It was embarrassing. Our goalie has been playing great and we have to play a lot better in front of him.”
Richards, who has started seven straight, was in net on Saturday night when Toledo knocked off the Wings 4-3 in a shootout in Kalamazoo. After Kalamazoo scored its ninth goal with 3:29 left, Richards threw the puck and then slammed his glove against the glass.
“We knew we’d be tired. It’s been a long week,” said Vitucci, whose team went 2-2-0 during the stretch which included a game at Chicago and two at Kalamazoo. “I think we left every bit of game on the ice in Kalamazoo.”
Richards made 18 saves in the first and did not yield a goal. Kalamazoo scored on a rebound 49 seconds into the second period. Just 19 seconds into a power play, Daavettila scored on a rebound for 2-0 edge with 10:52 left in second period.
Kalamazoo took a 3-0 lead with 5:37 left in the second period as the Wings led 31-11 in shots. Kalamazoo built a 4-0 cushion on Cloutier’s second goal of the game with 1:34 left in second period prompting Vitucci to remove Richards (8-8-1).
“It’s the last resort to take pull your horse out like that,” Vitucci said. “You hope Dustin can come in and provide a spark. But obviously it went the other way.”
Kalamazoo’s Justin Taylor scored on a soft shot to beat Carlson and the Wings scored again to take a 6-0 lead 3:13 into the third period. Carlson gave up two goals on three shots and was pulled.
The Wings scored 12 seconds after Cianfrini’s goal to make it 7-1 before Cloutier completed his hat trick and Kory Karlander added another.
“It’s tough for Richie,” said Cianfrini, who is one of six free agents signed in the last month. “He played well and we didn’t have a good effort in front of him.”
Next up for the Walleye are two home games next weekend against Elmira. Toledo hosts the Jackals on Friday and Saturday night.
“It’s an exhausted group of players now and that’s how we played,” Vitucci said.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.