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Toledo Walleye rookie goalie Mac Carruth looked right at home in his pro debut on Saturday night at the Huntington Center.
Carruth stopped all 32 shots he faced and posted a shutout in Toledo’s 3-0 win over Kalamazoo. Carruth was strong throughout the preseason contest in front of 4,625 spectators at the Huntington Center.
Carruth, a 21-year-old from Shorewood, Minn., was sent to Toledo on Thursday from Rockford of the American Hockey League.
Carruth made seven saves in the first period, eight in the second, and capped the shutout with 17 stops in the final period.
“The guys played really well,” Carruth said. “I can’t say enough about our defense blocking shots and taking second opportunities away.
“As a first-year pro, I expect to be down here for the most part. Of course injuries or whatnot could happen. This is going to be my team. Hopefully we can go all the way this year.”
The Walleye took a 1-0 lead with 4 minutes, 51 seconds left in second as defenseman Jason Lepine showed good stick handling and scored on a backhander. Lepine, who played in 47 games for the Walleye in 2010-11, spent the last two seasons playing Europe.
“It’s really great to be back,” Lepine said. “The coaching staff likes me, and they put me in situations where I can succeed.
"It’s a great facility and the fans treated me really well.”
Toledo scored with 8.1 seconds left in second period as Travis Novak tallied on a one-timer off of a feed from Trevor Parkes for a 2-0 cushion.
The Walleye seized a 3-0 lead 7:51 into the third period as Max Nicastro scored on a rebound.
With 6:48 left in the first period, Carruth made a magnificent save while on his back. Carruth prevented the first goal and was solid in the first.
“He’s very intense,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “It was nice to see him control that intensity. He could be a fan favorite because he's aggressive. He has to channel that energy. He handles the puck really well. He has poise. He gobbles up rebounds. And boy can he stop the puck.”
Carruth posted a record of 30-7-2 last year with Canadian junior team Portland of the Western Hockey League. He had a 2.06 goals-against average.
“We had great plays out of our forwards tonight,” Carruth said. “I think we're coming together as a team.”
Novak also had an assist, and Parkes had two assists. Sylvania native Alden Hirschfeld also had an assist.
Carruth credited captain Kyle Rogers for providing a steadying influence.
“The older guys have really helped me out, calming me down,” Carruth said. “We have the best captain in the league. He’s the best I've ever had. He’s a nice guy and knows how to tell you things.”
Toledo opens the regular season on Saturday at Fort Wayne. The home opener is Oct. 26 against the Wheeling Nailers.
“It was a very nice starting point,” Vitucci said.