Facing the worst team in the ECHL before the largest crowd of the season, the Walleye instantly fell behind by one but went on to score five unanswered goals to post a convincing win over Bakersfield on Saturday night.
Doug Clarkson, Cody Lampl, and Trevor Parkes scored goals in the first two periods and Joey Martin tallied two goals 41 seconds apart in the third period.
Toledo goalie Kent Simpson finished with 29 saves before a sellout crowd of 8,200 at the Huntington Center.
Coach Nick Vitucci said overall it was the strongest performance the entire roster has given all season.
“We played a very simple game defensively and every one was pulling the rope in the same direction,” he said. “And when we take care of things defensively, we have enough offensive tools that we will be able to get points. We saw that out of all three lines tonight.”
The Walleye (22-17-4) have now won three of their last four games. Bakersfield (12-29-4) is in the middle of seven-game road trip and has lost five of six. The Condors have given up the most goals (172) and the fewest points in the ECHL (28).
Regardless, the Walleye fell behind by one 52 seconds into the game on the contest's first shot. Yet Toledo knotted it 4:16 later on Clarkson's rebound goal as Pat Knowlton got the assist.
Lampl, a defenseman, gave Toledo a 2-1 lead with 1:28 left in the first period. The pass came up ice from Andrej Nestrasil and Lampl tipped it past Bakersfield goalie Brian Stewart (32 saves).
“He was great, picking and choosing his places to jump into the offense,” Vitucci said.
Parkes, who also scored in a 3-1 loss to Kalamazoo on Friday night, tallied a power play goal on an assist from Martin. Parkes was sprawled out just outside the crease when he managed to get his stick on the puck for a 3-1 Walleye lead.
Martin, who returned to the team on Wednesday from an AHL call up, capped it with his two quick goals near the midpoint of the final period.
“They scored early but that didn't really faze us,” Martin said. “We knew if we got pucks deep, and limited turnovers, eventually we knew our skill would take over. It was a lot of fun. My two linemates are really skilled. It's lot of fun making plays and scoring goals. We had a great crowd here in Toledo tonight.”
Vitucci said the line of Martin, Parkes, and Nestrasil were “a lot of fun to watch.” Nestrasil finished with three assists, while Martin had two goals and an assist.
“We didn't change any lines combo because we wanted everyone to get adjusted to each other after the all-star break,” Vitucci said.
Parkes, who was playing in just his second game for Toledo this season, assisted on both of Martin's goals. Parkes, assigned to Toledo from Grand Rapids on Friday, played in four games with the Walleye last season and had four goals.
“It's fun to get back to playing that kind of hockey,” Parkes said. “You help your team win a game and it's good for the crowd in a sold out barn. It felt good.”
Parkes has four points in two games, including a nifty diving goal in the second.
“You have to go to the hard places to score goals. You have to get to the dirty areas of the ice to get to the next level,” he said.
Bakersfield took a 1-0 lead as Peter Boyd scored on backhander. His shot beat Simpson through his legs and slowly trickled across the red line.
“I thought Simpson played a fantastic game for us,” Vitucci said. “It was great to see him settle down and make some big save for us. It was great how this whole team recovered [from Friday's loss]."
FISH TALES: The Walleye scored on one of two chances on the power play. They have scored on just two of their last 33 power play chances, dating back to Dec. 29. … Toledo is 10-7-3 at home. … Former University of Michigan football players Jordan Kovacs, Kevin Koger, and Elliot Mealer were on hand for ceremonial puck drop. … The Walleye scratches included F Travis Novak (injured Friday), and D Olivier Dame-Malka, who took heat for three mistakes that led to three goals on Friday.
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.