The reeling Walleye are stuck in a trend of getting off to a slow start, then scrambling to recover only to fall short.
On Sunday it led to Toledo's fourth straight loss, as the Walleye fell 5-4 to Reading.
The Royals scored three goals in the first period. The Walleye (4-6-2) rallied with two goals over the final 7:36 but came up short before an announced crowd of 4,452 at the Huntington Center.
“It's been five games where we've been lethargic,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “We find a way to play our way into a game and make it close. But it's fool's gold. It's happening too much where we've put ourselves behind the eight ball. We're flat. We need to play with pace. It's just disappointing.”
Toledo forward Martin Frk scored twice, once in the first period and then again in the third.
“We have to get off to a better start,” Frk said. “It's hard to get going after they score the first goal. We just have to get better in practice and put it out in the game.”
Trevor Parkes, the team's leading scorer, had a goal and an assist. Parkes now has eight goals and six assists.
Defenseman Joe Gleason scored his first pro goal with 46.9 seconds left after Toledo pulled its goalie.
“I don't think it's any secret we have started off slow and shot ourselves in the foot,” said Gleason, who also had two assists. “We need to find a way to get into games earlier. We've showed we can battle back. We can play with anyone. We just need better starts.”
C.J. Chartrain, Kevin Lynch, and Travis Novak had assists for Toledo.
But Reading's Stanislav Galiev scored twice and goalie Riley Gill finished with 17 saves.
Toledo goalie Jared Coreau (0-3-2) struggled at times, finishing with 21 saves on 26 shots.
Reading struck 5:10 into the game as Galiev scored on a bad angle from the corner, a goal Coreau probably should have stopped but it squeezed in over his shoulder.
Toledo tied it on Frk's one timer on a perfect pass from Chartrain. Frk was parked right in front of Gill, who had no chance to stop the quick shot.
But the defending ECHL champion Royals (7-4-0) took a 2-1 lead on Dustin Gazley's power play goal and went up 3-1 on a goal by Ned Lukacevic. The third goal was another Coreau should have stopped.
“It's deflating when a couple go by that you know he should have and he would love to have back,” Vitucci said. “If we want to be a top notch team we need to figure out a way to recover from those.”
The Walleye pulled within one on Parkes’ long slap shot. Parkes wound up and took the shot from the top of the left circle.
But Galiev scored his second to give the Royals a 4-2 lead late in the second when it appeared Coreau may have been screened by his own defenseman on the shot.
Reading seized a 5-2 lead on Dominic Monardo's shot with 10:19 left in the game.
But Frk then knocked one in with his skate. The goal was reviewed but it stood and made it 5-3.
“I was standing in front of the net and it hit my skate and went in,” said Frk, a native of the Czech Republic who was sent to the team from Grand Rapids earlier this month. “It was an easy goal but I'm happy with it. I was thinking it was a good goal and it was.”
Vitucci pulled Coreau for the extra attacker with 1:35 left and then called a timeout. Gleason then scored on an assist from Novak in the waning minutes.
“This team has drive and wants to win,” Gleason said. “We just have to get out of the funk in the first period.”
After playing five straight games on the road, the Walleye began a four-game homestand. Toledo next hosts Evansville on Saturday at 7:15.
FISH TALES: Captain Kyle Rogers missed the last two periods with a lower-body injury. … G Mac Carruth was called up to Rockford on Sunday. Carruth has played in eight games with Toledo, posting a record of 4-3-0 with a 2.50 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. … F Tyler Pilmore, a Sylvania native who played at Northview, was a victim of the numbers game and was released on Saturday. The Walleye have 14 forwards (four on injured reserve) with the addition of F Philippe Lefebvre, who joined the team after starting the season with Cincinnati (two goals and five assists in nine games).
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.