Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Power play woes sink Walleye

Cincinnati continues trend of playing well in road contests


Toledo's Stephon Thorne (26) can't get his stick on the puck and past Cincinnati goalie Michael Houser.

Blade/Andy Morrison Enlarge

After Toledo shut down Cincinnati's power play on Friday night, the Cyclones broke out with four goals with the man advantage on Saturday.

Toledo went 5 of 5 on the penalty kill on Friday night. But Cincinnati tallied four straight goals to take complete control and went on to a 5-2 win on Saturday.

Cincinnati had the 17th best power play unit in the ECHL during the regular season, scoring on 15.6 percent. The Cyclones cashed in on four of seven chances on Saturday.

“It's nice that it came through,” Cincinnati coach Jarrod Skalde said. “Our power play has struggled at times throughout the year. We talked about it being a new season. It's something we worked on, and I'm glad to see it came through tonight.”

The Walleye had the 11th best penalty kill unit in the regular season at 83.1 percent.

Toledo coach Nick Vitucci said referee Chris Pitoscia “at times maybe they didn't do his job.” The crowd grew increasingly agitated when six penalties were issed to Toledo players in the third period.

“That may end up being the storyline,” Vitucci said. “But we lost the game because of our emotions and how we reacted. It's pro hockey, you don't blame the referee for losing the hockey game. We won't do that by any means.”

HOME ADVANTAGE? Cincinnati actually had more points on the road (45) during the regular season than Toledo had at home (42).

Toledo finished the regular season with a 18-12-6 record at the Huntington Center. The Cyclones went 20-11-5 on the road during the regular season.

The Walleye lost the opener at home on Friday.

Cincinnati has home ice advantage but the opening round playoff series started in Toledo because of a scheduling conflict at the Cyclones' rink, U.S. Bank Arena.

After Saturday's game, the series shifts to Cincinnati for three straight games. Toledo went 2-1-0 at Cincinnati this season.

But Toledo went 19-14-3 on the road, setting franchise records for wins away from home. Cincinnati went 22-11-3 at U.S. Bank Arena.

LENGTHY OPENER: The Walleye's double overtime game on Friday was the longest in franchise history.

The game lasted three hours and 31 minutes. The last time a Toledo team went to two overtimes in the playoffs was in 2006, when the Storm defeated the Gwinnett Gladiators 4-3. Forward Todd Jackson scored the game winner back then and goalie Logan Koopmans got the win.

VETERAN SIDELINED: Walleye Randy Rowe, a 12-year veteran, did not play on Saturday. Stephone Thorne was inserted in his place. Rowe was injured in the playoff opener.

Rowe, who is seeking his first pro hockey title, has an upper body injury. He may return when the series shifts to Cincinnati.

JERSEY SWITCH: The Walleye are wearing their light jerseys at home once again. At the midpoint of the regular season, the ECHL teams switch to their dark jerseys. Once the playoffs start, the home teams go back to wearing the light-colored jerseys.

ATTENDANCE: Toledo had the second highest attendance in the ECHL for its playoff opener on Friday. A crowd of 4,042 attended Game 1 at the Huntington Center. Utah led with 4,864 and Alaska was third 4,002.

FISH TALES: All the higher seeds in the Eastern Conference won their playoff opener on Friday.

Top-seeded Reading knocked off No. 8-seed Greenville 1-0. Third-seeded Gwinnett defeated sixth-seed South Carolina 5-0. Fourth-seeded Florida knocked off fifth-seed Elmira.

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