In a back-and-forth rematch with Wheeling at the Huntington Center Saturday night, the Walleye scored three goals in the third period to finally hold off the Nailers.
Andrej Nestrasil tallied the game-winner with 11:56 left. Randy Rowe, Willie Coetzee, Max Campbell, and Josh Turnbull also scored in a true team effort for Toledo (6-5-1).
The Walleye, who have won two in a row, took the lead twice but Wheeling tied it both in the second and third periods.
It was the back end of a home-and-home series against the Nailers. Toledo won 5-2 in a similar game in Wheeling on Friday to break a four-game losing streak.
“[On Friday] we did the same thing,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “We had the lead three times and they caught up. But we found ways to rebound.”
Nestrasil gave Toledo the lead and Rowe added some cushion with 7:47 left before a crowd of 6,629.
“The last 50 minutes we played hard and found a way to win a hockey game where last week we were finding ways to lose a hockey game,” Vitucci said.
Toledo goalie Jordan Pearce (2-1-0) finished with 21 saves to win for the second straight night.
Eight different Walleye players had at least one point. Coetzee and Nestrasil each had a goal and an assist. Rogers and Travis Novak each had two assists.
“Every line is contributing and competing hard,” said Coetzee, who now leads the team with 11 points.
Coetzee scored a highlight reel goal with an unbelievable individual move 16 seconds into the third. With the game tied at 2 entering the final period, Coetzee used great stick work and slickly made his way around a Wheeling defender. Coetzee finished it with a nice deke to beat Wheeling goalie Patrick Killeen to give Toledo a 3-2 lead.
“Campbell had the forecheck and got me the puck,” Coetzee said. “I just went wide and I dangled him and dangled the goalie too. I don't know what to think while I'm doing it but afterward I just wanted to watch the video. It feels like you're on top of the world. That is a great moment for our team. We started the third period off with a bang.”
The Nailers evened things once again on Cody Chupp's power play goal. Chupp skated in alone and beat Pearce 6:52 into the third.
Nestrasil gave the Walleye the lead for good on an assist from Rogers midway through the third.
Vitucci said he mixed his lines up going into this weekend's action. He paired Coetzee with Turnbull and Novak. He put Nestrasil on a line with Rowe and Rogers. All had at least one point.
“We juggled things up [Friday] and moved people around. And it seemed to work,” Vitucci said. “We had the Rogers, Rowe, and [Luke] Glendening line going well but they were the only one clicking. Everyone is going now. When things get stale you change.”
Coetzee said he believes the team is rolling now and he's prepared to play on any line.
“It's a little bit of a challenge,” he said. “But we have a good group in there and we will work hard.”
Toledo had 27 shots on goal, while Wheeling (3-6-3) finished with 24. Killeen had 22 saves.
The Walleye can now go for a three-game win streak today. They host South Carolina at 5 p.m.
FISH TALES: The players wore special Captain America jerseys during Superhero Night. The jerseys were auctioned off after the game and all proceeds went to Heroes in Action and the Wounded Warrior Project. Rogers' jersey sold for an unbelievable $4,000. … Novak suffered a concussion with a big hit to the head in the third period. … Today's game is a Veterans Day celebration with a special pregame presentation to honor all of the men and women who served or are currently serving our country. … Before the contest, members of the Toledo Police Department played members of the Toledo Fire Department in a charity game. The police won 7-3. The event raised more than $2,000 and a portion of the ticket proceeds benefits the Firefighters Local 92 Charities and the Toledo Police Museum. … The organization is working with a local charitable group called ISOH/IMPACT to help those affected by the recent storm along the East Coast. The Walleye are asking fans to bring food and relief supplies to the game to help fill five-gallon buckets. Donation bins will be set up at the entrance gates at the Huntington Center.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.