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CINCINNATI — Walleye defenseman Ben Youds arrived just 35 minutes before faceoff of Game 5 of Toledo's opening-round ECHL playoff series.
Youds, the Walleye’s top scoring defenseman, was reassigned from Rockford of the American Hockey League early on Saturday.
Youds did not play and was a healthy scratch in Rockford’s home game in Illinois on Friday. His flight landed in Cincinnati in the afternoon. But he had to wait for his hockey gear to be unloaded, according to Walleye officials.
Youds took a taxicab to the arena but missed the warmups prior to the game. He arrived at U.S. Bank Arena just after warmups were completed. He was out on the ice for the second shift of the game.
Youds ranked fifth on the team in scoring during the regular season. He led all defensemen with 34 points, including seven goals.
Youds had played in two of the four previous playoff games for the Walleye. He had one assist and five shots on goal. Youds was called up to Rockford on Tuesday and has missed Toledo’s last two playoff games.
Youds had three goals and three assists in four games against the Cyclones during the regular season.
The Walleye played with just five defensemen and 11 forwards on Friday. Defenseman Joey Ryan was a scratch because of a lower body injury. Toledo had six defensemen in the lineup Saturday.
BONUS HOCKEY: The Walleye’s tight Eastern Conference quarterfinal series has featured two double overtime games. The Walleye survived elimination in Game 4 when Kyle Rogers scored 1:41 into the second OT on Friday. Toledo won the game, which lasted 81 minutes, 3-2.
“It’s probably more stressful for the fans than it is the players and coaches,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said after Friday’s game.
The opening game of the quarterfinals at the Huntington Center also went to two overtimes. Cincinnati prevailed 2-1 when Mike Embach scored his second of the game 4:48 into the second OT. The game lasted nearly 85 minutes.
In real time, the game in Toledo on April 5 lasted three hours and 31 minutes. It was the longest in the history of the Walleye. The game on Friday lasted 3:23.
Friday’s win was Toledo’s first victory in a game that went past regulation in more than four months. The last time the Walleye won a game in overtime or a shootout was Nov. 11. Toledo had dropped nine straight games that went past regulation since that win.
GOOD TO LEAD: Toledo led after the first period for the first time in the series on Friday. The Walleye took the lead on a Cody Lampl goal. Toledo went on to post a 3-2 win in double overtime.
The Walleye also took a 1-0 edge over the Cyclones on Saturday when Joey Martin scored a power play goal at the 9:48 mark.
Toledo is 24-10-5 this season when leading after the opening period.
Despite scoring first on Friday, the Walleye trailed 2-1 going to the third period and were being out shot 24-17.
LEADERS STEP UP: Toledo’s top two scorers during the regular season, Willie Coetzee and Kyle Rogers, both tallied their first points of the playoffs in Friday’s game.
Rogers scored the second goal in his playoff career when he notched the game winner in double overtime on Friday.
Coetzee assisted on Lampl’s goal in the first period.
Coetzee led Toledo in every offensive category during the regular season. Coetzee, who is in his third pro season, had 68 points with 28 goals and 40 assists.
Rogers was second on the team in points with 46 (15 G, 31 A), followed by Martin’s 45 points (16 G, 29 A).