Choosing the three stars of the game at Walleye home contests has become a tough task lately as Toledo continues to roll with contributions from a variety of sources.
The Walleye won their third consecutive contest, and fifth in a row at the Huntington Center, on Sunday afternoon as they knocked off the Florida Everblades 4-2.
Max Campbell scored the game winner with 12:14 left.
Toledo held one-goal leads in each of the first two periods, but Florida tied it at 2 in the second. Yet the Walleye then tallied the only two goals in the final period.
Joey Martin, Terry Broadhurst, and Willie Coetzee also scored for Toledo (16-10-1), which increased its first-place lead in the ECHL North Division to three points.
“We have three lines that can do it all,” said Campbell, who became the 12th different player to tally a game winner this season. “They can play at both ends of the ice. We have guys who can score on each line and we've really gelled as a team and as of late it has shown.”
Walleye goalie Jordan Pearce made two solid saves over the first four minutes of the third period to keep it tied. He finished with 18 stops. The Walleye outshot the defending ECHL champs 34-20.
“Confidence is so important,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “When you're playing with confidence, if you are tied or down a few goals you believe you can come back. Right now our mindset is that we're going to comeback and win. It's a good place to be.”
Campbell, who earned the No. 1 star, simply put a shot on net and somehow it got by Florida goalie John Muse to the delight of 5,008 spectators at the Huntington.
“I don't know how that one got by him but you just throw it on net and anything can happen,” said Campbell, who is now one of nine players with 15 or more points this season.
Coetzee added an insurance goal with 7:08 left. Coetzee leads team with 26 points, including 14 goals. He also is on a five-game goal streak and was named the second star of the game.
It was third straight game that the team has scored multiple goals in the third period.
“For any good team, the third period has to be their best,” Campbell said. “We've been playing great.”
The Walleye scored first on a beautiful, tic-tac-toe passing play from Coetzee to Kyle Rogers who tapped it up to Martin. Martin, who also had an assist, scored his fourth goal to make it 1-0 with 12:21 left in first.
In the second period, Broadhurst scored on assists from Luke Glendening and Andrej Nestrasil, who is on an eight-game scoring streak. Nestrasil had two assists.
A bad turnover in the Walleye end resulted in a tying goal. But Broadhurst, who had a goal and an assist for 21 total points, put Toledo back up by a goal just 13 seconds later. He earned the third star.
Florida tied it at 2 as A.J. Jenks scored midway through the second. Pearce could not slide to his left in time to make the stop.
Florida came into the game on a five-game winning streak.
“Obviously we have a pretty good team now and it's nice to show it against a very good hockey team,” Vitucci said. “Florida is the defending champs and they've been on roll. It challenged us … and we answered the bell. It was nice to see how we measured up and we measured up well. It's another step forward for this hockey team.”
Toledo has the second most home wins in the Eastern Conference (9-5-0).
The Walleye have the lowest team goals against average in franchise history. Pearce, who had a shutout on Saturday night, improved to 8-3-0.
“He challenges so well,” Vitucci said. “Really good scoring opportunities look like routine saves because of the position he gets himself in. He's seeing the puck really well.”
The Walleye don't return home until Dec. 28. They have three straight road games beginning at Greenville, which has won four in a row, on Friday.
“It was definitely a big weekend for us and to finish it off against a strong Florida team is big for us as well,” Campbell said.
FISH TALES: The Perrysburg girls soccer team that won the Division I state title was honored before the game and the team's captains dropped the ceremonial puck. … F Phillipe Paradis looked like he scored his first goal in Walleye uniform, but the goal was waived off as Travis Novak was called for goalie interference midway through the first period. Toledo outshot Florida 13-5 in the first period and lead 1-0. … Toledo went 0 of 2 on the power play. The Walleye also went 0 of 4 on Saturday night. They are ranked 16th out of 23 in the ECHL with the man advantage. … Glendening was robbed twice by Muse (30 saves) in the second period. Glendening and Aaron Bogosian get in a brief fight. Bogosian threw a flurry of punches. But Glendening took him to the ice in the third period.
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.