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Published: Saturday, 11/30/2013 - Updated: 7 months ago

Walleye blanked once again

ECHL-best South Carolina tops Toledo for 2nd straight game

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo’s Martin Frk is knocked down by South Carolina’s Steve Spinell during the first period at Huntington Center. Three third-period goals led to a 4-0 loss. Toledo’s Martin Frk is knocked down by South Carolina’s Steve Spinell during the first period at Huntington Center. Three third-period goals led to a 4-0 loss.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge

The Walleye put together a much better effort on Friday night but the results were the same as Toledo was shutout for the second straight game.

The Walleye (5-8-2) hung right with the top team in the ECHL, South Carolina (13-2-3), for most of the contest at the Huntington Center. The Stingrays scored three goals over the final 11 minutes and Toledo lost 4-0 before a crowd of 7,033.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view images from the game

Both netminders in the game had spent time in the NHL.

Goalie Hannu Toivonen got his first start for Toledo and finished with 35 saves. Toivonen, who signed a contract on Tuesday, played in 61 games with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues from 2005-08.

South Carolina's David LeNeveu played for Phoenix and Columbus. LeNeveu had 32 saves to earn the shutout.

Chad Painchaud scored twice for the Stingrays, who shut out the Walleye for the second straight game. South Carolina blasted Toledo 7-0 on Wednesday.

“I thought we competed very hard and that was something we didn't do on Wednesday,” Vitucci said. “I thought the goals scored against us tonight were not because of a lack of effort.”

All four Stingray goals were results of turnovers.

“And we made more turnovers than that and Hannu had to be very good,” Vitucci said. “So we have to clean up parts of our game.”

The Walleye have lost six of their last seven games, while the Stingrays have the most points in the ECHL.

South Carolina broke a scoreless deadlock when Painchaud scored on a solo breakaway with 2:22 left in the second period. A turnover in the neutral zone led to a pass from Wayne Simpson up to Painchaud who beat Toivonen low.

Simpson added a second goal with a shot from the slot with 11:06 left in the game on a nice backhanded assist from Lindsay Sparks.

Painchaud scored again with 7:37 to go and Jack Downing made it 4-0 a mere 19 seconds later.

Vitucci inserted captain Kyle Rogers back into the lineup along with physical forces Emerson Clark and Phil Oreskovic after what he termed “an awful” performance on Wednesday.

Clark (5-10, 181) got into a fight with Anthony Collins (6-4, 215) in the second period. Each player landed some good punches in the scrap. Rogers had a team-high five shots.

“Tonight was way better than Wednesday,” Rogers said. “We had to shuffle the lineup. It gave us a boost. We had our opportunities. We were just snakebit. We just couldn't bury it.”

Alden Hirschfeld had a terrific chance to break the shutout with two minutes left but his shot went high.

“I have to bear down and finish that,” Hirschfeld said. “It was rolling but I had an open net. The whole team had plenty of chances and you just have to fight through it and hope the bounces go your way.”

Rogers said LeNeveu stood on his head at times. Both goalies played a high level in the first. LeNeveu stopped nine shots and Toivonen made 14 saves.

“As a fan and former goaltender that was fun to watch,” Vitucci said. “Hannu deserved a better result.”

The Walleye entered the game surrendering a league-high 3.64 goals per game. They remain in last place in the North Division. Vitucci made his team do extra skating after Wednesday's loss.

“We've gotten a bit of skid here and something has to change,” Hirschfeld said. “The message the coach is sending to the guys, he is trying to see what will work. We owe it to him and the fans.”

Vitucci said the Stingrays have the ability to shut teams down defensively.

“We hung with a very good hockey team,” he said. “They make you earn any scoring chances you get.”

Toledo's next three games are all on the road including a trip to Wheeling today for a 7 p.m. contest. Toledo plays at Evansville on Thursday and Saturday.

“It's baby steps unfortunately,” Vitucci said. “We've dug ourselves a a hole here and I don't think we get out of it in one giant leap. But I saw some positive things with our competition level.”

FISH TALES: Toledo was outshot 39-32. … Toledo is 1-16-1 all time against South Carolina. … Toledo is now 0 of its last 15 on the power play. … Toledo was shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since February, 2010 — also against South Carolina.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.



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