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Walleye forward David Gilbert did all he could to make the Toledo coaching debuts of Derek Booth and John Vigilante a success on Wednesday night.
Gilbert, the team's leading scorer, tallied two goals against Wheeling. The Nailers scored quick goals to start the first and second periods and went on to post a 6-2 win.
Booth and Vigilante were named co-coaches while filling in for Walleye coach Dan Watson, who was at home for the birth of his second daughter.
“It was fun to be back there,” said Booth, a former Toledo Storm defenseman who lives in Oregon. “We enjoyed the game. The boys worked hard.”
Booth played three seasons in Toledo. Vigilante started the season as a Walleye forward, but his career came to an end during the preseason because of a heart ailment.
Before the coaches could settle in, the Nailers scored 28 seconds into the game.
Wheeling's Cody Sylvester scored on a snap shot that beat Walleye goalie Hannu Toivonen (27 saves) over his shoulder. The Nailers scored on their first shot before many of 4,147 at the Huntington Center had settled into their seats.
Wheeling struck early again as Carter Rowney scored 14 seconds into the second period.
The Nailers went up 3-0 with a shorthanded goal as Sylvester notched his second goal of the game. Gilbert scored two power play goals (his 16th and 17th) in a span of 8:23 to get the Walleye to within one.
Shane Baker gave Wheeling a 4-2 lead 2:35 into the third period. Tyler Fernandez padded the lead with 9:13 left, and Tom Kuhnhackl added another with 5:43 left.
Toledo (18-38-4) has lost four in a row and 12 in a row at home.
Booth has coached in the Southern Professional Hockey League, the United Hockey League, and International Hockey League. He was coach of the year in the SPHL in 2004-05. His last coaching stop was in Bloomington of the IHL in 2007-08.
Vigilante, an American Hockey League veteran, was signed in the offseason but was able to play in just one preseason game before retiring.
“They did an amazing job,” Gilbert said. “They did a good job in the room and we were prepared for this game.”
Toivonen made his sixth straight start. Toledo was outshot 33-30.
Booth said the coaches remained positive.
“We just had to stay patient and believe in ourselves,” he said. “It was a good position going into the third. We felt we were pushing forward. We worked so hard to get in a good spot.”
Toledo wraps up a six-game homestand as the Walleye host Gwinnett Saturday and Sunday.
FISH TALES: Watson's daughter was born at 9:29 Wednesday morning. Eilee Sophia is 8 pounds, 11 ounces. Watson will be back for Toledo's game on Saturday. … G Jared Coreau is back with the team after his return from an AHL call up to Grand Rapids. … The makeup date for the Walleye's road game that was postponed earlier this month is at Wheeling on April 1.