Toledo forward Nino Musitelli scores against Wheeling goaltender Peter Delmas in the first period on Friday night. The Walleye scored four third-period goals to rally for a 5-2 victory.
Kyle Rogers couldn’t capitalize on what appeared to be his best shot on Peter Delmas.
After the opposing goalie denied the Toledo Walleye forward on a breakaway attempt in the second period, Rogers wasn’t going to let his next two scoring chances go for naught.
In less than 30 seconds, Rogers beat Wheeling’s goalie twice to help the Walleye to a 5-2 win over the Wheeling Nailers.
Set up twice by Willie Coetzee, Rogers tied the game at 2-2 on a shot from the right circle at 2:37 of the third.
Just 27 seconds later, Rogers picked up a rebound at Delmas’ pads and gave the Walleye their first lead of the game Friday at the Huntington Center.
“They took it to us in the first period,” Rogers said. “We came into the room and we accepted it, that they came to play.
"We might have been on our heels a little bit. But every period, we got better.”
The Walleye trailed 2-1 less than 10 minutes into the game but several instances sparked the Walleye’s four-goal third period.
Less than four minutes after Zack Torquato and Matt Germain gave the Nailers a 2-0 lead, Stephon Thorne squared off against Adam Ross — who, at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, had a noticeable advantage on the 6-foot, 178-pound Thorne.
“As soon as that fight happened, our bench got loud, they got supportive,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said.
“Then the very next shift, we went out and [Nino Musitelli] scored the goal. Thorne, taking that upon himself to try and spark this hockey club, was a turning factor in the game.”
In addition to a line shuffle between the second and the third period, Rogers said that assistant coach Dan Watson pointed out a pair of numbers to the Walleye.
“We came in between the second and the third and coach Watson gave us a little pep talk,” Rogers said.
“He wrote plus-17 and minus-21 on the board. In the third period, we had 17 goals for and 21 goals against, so that pretty much sparked us.
"We knew we’d have to go out and play our best period.”
Musitelli beat Delmas (38 saves) to cut Wheeling’s lead to 2-1 with 3:22 left in the first and after Rogers’ third-period goals, Coetzee and Byron Froese added goals for the Walleye, who killed off a delay-of-game penalty against Coetzee with less than seven minutes left in the third.
“We’ve been in this position so often that we might be down a goal or two, and we get into the latter part of the game and it doesn’t faze us,” Vitucci said.
“We’ve got what it takes in this locker room to overcome any deficit … it’s business as usual.”
FISH TALES: Walleye equipment manager Dave Aleo marked his 1,500th game in pro hockey Friday. Aleo is in his fourth season with the Walleye and has worked in the NHL, AHL, ECHL, and in international hockey. … Coetzee led all players with 10 shots on goal against Wheeling, and Jordan Pearce made 19 saves. … The Walleye enter today’s game against Fort Wayne second in the North Division behind Cincinnati and fourth in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.