Everything looked promising for the hard-charging Walleye during a rare morning game that ultimately ended in sudden disappointment for Toledo.
The Walleye trailed Cincinnati 3-1 going into the third period but rallied to tie it. Toledo then was on a late power play looking for the go-ahead goal when the Cyclones scored shorthanded.
A stunned crowd of 6,591 consisting mostly of boisterous middle school and elementary students during School Appreciation Day saw Toledo lose 4-3 at the Huntington Center.
“It’s a devastating one,” said forward Trevor Parkes, who tied the game with 9:31 left in regulation. “All of the boys in the room are pretty upset right now. It’s a tough way to end the game like that when we’re charging back and spirits are high. But there are a lot of positives. We showed character coming back from two goals down. We pushed hard.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Walleye vs. Cyclones on School Appreciation Day
Cincinnati’s John McFarland scored a shorthanded goal, beating Toledo goalie Jared Coreau with 1:15 left to give the Cyclones the win.
“We battled our way back,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “I thought we really out-chanced them two to one. But we didn’t have anything to show for it. Now it’s a gut check. Now the challenge is to see how we respond.”
Toledo (2-1-1) tied it at 3 when Parkes scored his second goal of the season on an assist from Alden Hirschfeld. It was the first point for Hirschfeld, a Sylvania native.
“It’s a tough way to go down but it was great to see the team fight back from down 3-1 in the third,” Hirschfeld said. “Some teams will fold there. We can build off this.”
Cincinnati (4-0-0) scored on its first shot of the game. The Cyclones’ Wade Megan scored his team’s first two goals. He put the Cyclones up 2-0 just 5:48 into game as he scored on his second straight shot.
The Walleye then got on the board when Scott Arnold scored a power play goal on assists from Kevin Lynch and Russ Sinkewich 10:09 into the first period. Arnold scored his third of the season, while Lynch now has a team-high five points. Lynch made a nice dish out front to Arnold.
Cincinnati’s Jonathan Hazen collected his own rebound and scored to give the Cyclones a 3-1 lead with 11:56 left in second period.
But Toledo pulled within a goal as newcomer Richard Nedomlel lifted a shot over Cincinnati goalie Rob Madore’s shoulder to make it 3-2 with 12:45 left in regulation.
Toledo killed off six Cincinnati power plays, including one late in regulation when defenseman Phil Rauch saved a goal by stopping a puck headed for a wide open net.
Then the Walleye went on the power play tied at 3 with 2:58 left. But Megan was able to find a streaking McFarland behind the Walleye defense and he finished.
Coreau (0-1-1) had 23 saves.
Toledo outshot the Cyclones 30-27. Cincinnati defeated the Walleye 3-2 in overtime last week and knocked them out of the playoffs last year.
“It’s fun,” Vitucci said. “It’s two teams that match up well and bring out the best of each other. I enjoy playing Cincinnati. It should be real good hockey games.”
Parkes had five points in six games in the playoff series last year, and now has 34 points, including 16 goals, in 23 regular-season games with the Walleye.
Parkes said he had played in two morning games when he was in juniors.
“It's a lot different,” Parkes said. “You are used to practicing at this time. The kids are loud and sometimes you can’t hear yourself talk or think. It’s fun for the kids.”
Toledo is in the midst of a stretch of four games in five days. The Walleye are at Kalamazoo tonight at 7:30.
FISH TALES: It was the second of 11 meetings between the teams. Toledo went 4-3-1 against Cincinnati last season. ...The Cyclones won the playoff series four games to two. … The Cyclones took sole possession of first place in the North Division. … Nedomlel, a native of the Czech Republic, was assigned to Toledo from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League on Monday.