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The Walleye could not recover from a quick deficit as well as an off night for their goalies on Friday night at the Huntington Center.
Toledo gave up two goals in each of the first two periods and could never recover in a 5-3 loss to Cincinnati.
The Walleye (17-13-1), which could have moved into first place in the ECHL North Division with a win, spotted the Cyclones a 2-0 lead six minutes into the game.
Goalie Jordan Pearce was pulled near the game's midpoint after yielding four goals on 13 shots. Kent Simpson gave up one goal on eight shots in relief before a sellout crowd of 7,453.
“There were probably three goals that our goalies would love to have back,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “You could line up hundreds of pucks where they scored and they wouldn't get one by them.”
Defenseman Ben Youds and forwards Joey Martin and Andrej Nestrasil scored for Toledo, which has now lost three of its last four.
Martin scored a shorthanded goal on an assist from captain Kyle Rogers to make it 4-2 with 6:04 left in the second period.
“Rogers had a good second effort there, he poked it right up to me and I was alone in front,” Martin said.
Martin said the team gave up too many odd-man rushes.
“We have two great goalies and they've been backing us up all year,” Martin said. “Maybe they didn't have their greatest games but maybe we could have helped them out a little bit more.”
Down 2-0 early, Youds got Toledo on the board on a perfect assist from Doug Clarkson. Youds scored on a one timer on a pass from behind the net from Clarkson with 11:55 left in the first period.
The Cyclones scored 54 seconds into the game as former Walleye forward Michael Pelech gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead on an odd-angle goal. Cincinnati seized a 2-0 lead moments after a Walleye power play expired on a two-on-one rush.
“It's tough playing from behind against a good team,” Martin said.
Cincinnati went up 3-1 as Garrett Wilson scored on a rebound with 11:08 left in the second period.
Walleye defenseman Cody Lampl was then called for a game misconduct for a major boarding penalty. The Cyclones scored a power play goal to make it 4-1.
“He was turning up ice and once you are committed it's hard for me to stop myself,” Lampl said. “You never want to see a guy hit his head on the way down. It was tough for me to stop. I was trying to get the team fired up. I talked to him after the game to make sure he was alright. He was understanding. But it was tough to put your team in a spot like that.”
Maury Edwards made it 5-2 on a soft goal given up by Simpson with 7:16 left. Nestrasil, who was reassigned from Grand Rapids on Friday along with Brent Readeke and Max Nicastro, scored with five seconds left.
The Walleye outshot the Cyclones 35-21. But they went 0-of-4 on the power play.
“Our goaltenders have been so strong all year, so we're not going to throw them under the bus,” Vitucci said. “You win as a team and you lose as a team. We'll move on.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.