Toledo’s Travis Novak, left, fights with Kalamazoo's Dustin Cloutier during Sunday's game with the Wings.
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Toledo gained a point and moved into first place on Sunday, but the Walleye also were gutted with the loss of five key players after the settlement of the NHL lockout.
Toledo wrapped up the first half of the 2012-13 season with a 2-1 loss to Kalamazoo in a game that went to a shootout at the Huntington Center.
Toledo rookie defenseman Max Nicastro scored Toledo's only goal and was informed after the game that he was among three forwards and two defenseman that were promoted to the American Hockey League.
Walleye rookie Terry Broadhurst, who ranks second on the team with 31 points, is heading to Rockford.
“It's bittersweet,” said Broadhurst, who has played in all 36 games.
“It's a different feeling especially when you are here this long. The team is close and you get acclimated to the coaching staff. But we've all kept a good attitude and used our time to get better. Hopefully we can take that to the next level.”
With all of the recent moves, coach Nick Vitucci now finds himself missing five of his top seven leading scorers. “This is uncharted waters,” Vitucci said. “We've never been through this before. We will just feel our way through it. We are scrambling to put a team together.”
Defenseman Ben Youds, who was going to be one of two players to represent the Walleye at the ECHL all-star game later this month, has also been called to Rockford.
Two other forwards, Brandon Svendsen and Byron Froese, will join Broadhurst and Youds in Rockford.
The Walleye (19-13-4) have reached the season's midpoint and moved into a share of first place with Cincinnati in the North.
Nicastro, who scored in the first period, was recalled to Grand Rapids. Nicastro had two goals and three assists in eight Walleye games.
Nicastro beat Wings goalie Joel Martin (29 saves) on a nice one timer. The goal was set up by a quick pass from Willie Coetzee, the team's leading scorer who will remain with the club.
Kalamazoo took the wind out of the Walleye sails as Alexandre Mallet scored with 25.2 seconds left in the first.
After scoreless frames in the second, third, and overtime, the K-Wings scored the only goal in the shootout. Eric Kattelus had the game winner.
Walleye goalie Jordan Pearce, who shutout the Wings on Friday, finished with 21 saves and stopped three skaters in the shootout before a crowd of 6,548.
“It was a typical Sunday game with both teams playing three [games in a row],” Pearce said. “It becomes a game of who makes the fewest mistakes. The shootouts are fun for me. I go into them with the mindset to get the win but we already have a point. I don't think it's a true representative of the game but it's good for the fans.”
It was the second shootout in a row for the Walleye. as they lost 4-3 to Orlando on Saturday. Toledo has lost all four shootouts it has been in and only Broadhurst has scored a goal in any of them.
“We're going into the shootout with some negative thoughts,” Vitucci said. “You're not going to fool [Martin] with any trickery. He's an experienced goalie.”
Toledo struggled once again on the power play, going 0 of 6 with just five shots.
Vitucci said he is fairly certain he will not lose either Pearce or rookie goalie Kent Simpson to call ups.
The Walleye, which have lost four in a row at home, now embark on a five-game road trip. It starts with three games in Florida against the Everblades on Wednesday.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us trying to get a team together to get on a plane on Tuesday,” Vitucci said. “The bad part of it is right now for us is that we are leaving for a week on a road trip to the furthest destination that we can go and we have to try to get players.”
Toledo does not return home until Jan. 25.
“I don't know what is going to happen,” veteran defenseman Wes O'Neill said. “I know coach is already on the horn trying to get as many guys in as he can. If we pick up a few guys from the Florida beer league and they have to play with us, they have to play with us. You just try to make the best of the situation.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.
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