Walleye lose 7-0 to South Carolina

Walleye's Martin Frk (19) moves the puck against South Carolina during an ECHL hockey game Wednesday.
Walleye's Martin Frk (19) moves the puck against South Carolina during an ECHL hockey game Wednesday.

After a complete meltdown by his struggling team, furious Walleye coach Nick Vitucci made his team go right back out on to the ice to go through a grueling skating session.

Toledo gave up one goal to South Carolina in the first period and then two in the second period. But then the wheels totally came off as the Walleye yielded four more. The Stingrays pinned Toledo with an embarrassing 7-0 shutout before a crowd of 4,488 at the Huntington Center.

After the two hour and 15 minute game, Vitucci was blunt about the assessment of his club and then immediately put his own skates on to drill his team in three, 20-minute sessions.

“There was no effort,” Vitucci said. “We have to look long and hard at this hockey club right now. They failed to play tonight any part of 60 minutes so we're going back out there right now.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Walleye vs. Stingrays

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In a move reminiscent of gruff coach Teddy Garvin and the days of the Goaldiggers, Vitucci had his players skate from end to end of the rink, in telling silence.

“I've never had to do this,” Vitucci said. “Any one of a dozen people we could pull out of this lineup after tonight's game and not even have to think hard about it. The challenge is to figure out which ones to pull out because half of them were terrible.”

The Walleye fell into an early hole once again and South Carolina poured it on from there to ensure Toledo could not climb out of it.

The Walleye found themselves trailing after the first period for the seventh time this season.

Toledo (5-7-2) has lost five of its last six games. The Walleye are now 1-5-1 when they are down after the first period and 0-5-1 after trailing through two periods.

South Carolina goalie Jeff Jakaitis finished with 30 saves to earn his first shutout. Jakaitis, who improved to 10-1-3, had the fourth best goals-against average (1.90) in the ECHL coming into the game.

Toledo rookie goalie Jared Coreau, who earned his first pro victory last Saturday, finished with 17 saves on 21 shots. He was replaced following the Stingrays' fourth goal after getting little help from the Walleye defense.

The Stingrays (12-2-3) entered the game with the most points in the entire ECHL. Toledo has 12 points and sits in last place in the North Division.

The Walleye had broken a four-game losing streak with a 6-2 home win last Saturday.

But South Carolina scored on its second shot of the game. Andrew Cherniwchan put the Stingrays up 1-0 just 3:03 into the contest.

Jakaitis robbed Toledo's Louis-Marc Aubrey on a point blank shot just 57 seconds into the game. But it was all Stingrays after that.

South Carolina struck early again in the second period as Jeremy Price's goal just 1:59 in gave the Stingrays a 2-0 lead.

They scored again with just 24 seconds left in the second period as Jordan Owens got in alone on a solo breakaway and beat Coreau as South Carolina went up 3-0. Chad Painchaud stole the puck from Walleye defenseman Max Nicastro at mid-ice and sent it up to Owens.

South Carolina then removed all doubt scoring goals on its first two shots of the third period to seize a 5-0 lead.

Coreau was replaced by Hannu Toivonen after he gave up the fourth goal. Toivonen, a native of Finland who was signed on Tuesday, gave up a goal on the first shot he faced.

But much like Coreau, Toivonen was hung out to dry.

The only bright spot was a late fight between Toledo's Stephon Thorne (6-0 and 180) and Anthony Collins (6-4, 215) with 7:02 left. Thorne fought a player much bigger than himself for the second straight game.

“You still have your handful of guys who keep grinding led by Stephon Thorne,” Vitucci said. “Here's a guy that I have as a 10th forward many nights because of the talent that may be in this locker room. It's embarrassing to have to ask him to take a shift off because I'm playing other guys and that's the effort we get out of them.”

South Carolina's Wayne Simpson and Marc Hagel added two more goals in the third.

The teams meet again on Friday night at the Huntington Center at 7:15 p.m. After Friday's game, Toledo plays three in a row on the road beginning Saturday at Wheeling.

Vitucci said he hopes to have captain Kyle Rogers, feisty veteran Phil Oreskovic and enforcer Emerson Clark back on Friday. All have had various injuries.

“We were awful, just awful tonight,” Vitucci said. “We had no energy and were just lifeless.”

FISH TALES: South Carolina outshot Toledo 31-30. ... The Walleye were 0 of 5 on the power play, while the Stingrays were 1 of 2 …Toivonen, who has played in 61 NHL games, finished with seven saves on 10 shots. … South Carolina is 5-1-1 when it scores the first goal, while Toledo is 3-1-1 when scoring first. … Toledo entered the game with the third best attendance in the ECHL (6,985 per game) with three sellouts.

PROMOTIONS: Turkey hats fell from the ceiling between the first and second periods on Turkey Hat Drop night. Friday is Cody Lampl Bobble Head night as the first 2,000 fans get the souvenir. It also is a Hockey and Hops Beer Tasting evern. There also will be a post game party with the players. For more info call 419-725-WALL or go to toledowalleye.com.