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Power play propels Walleye to win

03/19/2017, 12:42am EDT
By By MARK MONROE BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Toledo scores 3 goals on the man advantage to take down Tulsa

The Walleye erupted with three power-play goals less than three minutes apart in the second period Saturday night to take control of their tilt with Tulsa.

Toledo trailed the Oilers 1-0 when the scoring barrage began before a sellout crowd of 8,078 at the Huntington Center. Shane Berschbach, Tyson Spink, and Dane Walters scored the power-play goals to lead the Walleye to a 4-3 win against Tulsa.

“That was the difference in the game,” Walleye coach Dan Watson said. “We pride ourselves on special teams. That's been our identity the last couple of years.”

Berschbach and Tyson Spink each finished with a goal and an assist. Justin Agosta and Evan Rankin each had two assists.

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Walleye goalie Cal Heeter (12-1-0) got his first start for the Walleye since Feb. 25 and finished with 28 saves.

Tulsa scored first when Shawn Bates finished a solo breakaway with 1:49 left in the first period.

The Walleye then scored two power-play goals just 26 seconds apart to instantly seize a 2-1 lead early in the second. Toledo was on a 5-on-3 advantage when Berschbach tied the game.

The Walleye still were up a man when Tyson Spink tallied his team-high 33rd goal of the season. Rankin assisted on both goals, including a perfect feed across the top of the crease for a one-timer by Spink.

“That was a play we drew up during intermission,” Spink said.

Toledo added another power-play goal when Walters made it 3-1 at the 4:14 mark of the second.

The Walleye scored on three of their first four shots of the second  to grab the two-goal lead. The goals came just 2:57 apart.

“Once we get on a roll, we’re hard to stop,” Watson said. “It took a bit for us to get going tonight. But once we did, we didn’t stop.”

Toledo (45-14-3) entered the game ranked second in the ECHL in power play percentage at 23.7. The Walleye went 3-of-4 with the man advantage and Tulsa was 0-of-3.

Tulsa (26-32-6) pulled within a goal at 3-2 when Alexandre Ranger scored with 10:57 left in the second.

But Toledo’s J.P. LaFontaine scored his 11th of the year to put the Walleye up 4-2 at the 16:20 mark of the second period.

Tulsa’s Dylan Hubbs then scored with 4:46 left in regulation to make it 4-3.

Heeter then made a key save from point-blank range with 3:20 left to protect the one-goal lead.

“He was solid,” Watson said. “He stopped all the pucks he should and some others maybe he shouldn’t have. He gave us an opportunity to win.”

“We showed good resiliency against a team that plays hard,” Spink said. “We stuck to our game plan.”

Tulsa pulled goalie P.J. Musico, who finished with 28 saves, with 1:57 left in regulation but could not score the equalizer.

It was the second contest in a seven-game homestand for Toledo. The teams meet again at the downtown arena at 5:15 p.m. today.

FISH TALES: Walleye captain Alden Hirschfeld did not return to the bench after he was crushed into the boards five minutes into the game. Hirschfeld suffered a lower-body injury. He is out indefinitely, but is scheduled to get an MRI on Monday. “With him out, we'll need other guys to step up,” Watson said. “But he's proven to be a quick healer.” ... There were three fights in the game. There was a dust up less than five minutes in after Walleye defenseman Jordan Hill took exception to a hit Kale Kessy made on Hirschfeld. Kessy fought three times. In the third fight, Walleye defenseman Landon Oslanski acquitted himself well in a brawl against Kessy. “It’s big time team toughness,” Watson said. “The guy that hit Hirschfeld had to fight three times. We don’t get enough credit for that.” ... It was the 18th sellout of the year at the downtown arena, which ties a single-season franchise record. It was the 96th sellout in franchise history. ... Tyson Spink leads all ECHL rookies with 33 goals and 72 points. ... “I don't look too much at individual stats,” Spink said.

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

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