The Walleye’s Beau Schmitz battles with Kalamazoo's Peter Schneider. Toledo still has a 2-1 series lead despite the loss. KALAMAZOO WINGS/ALLIE LOCHART
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Toledo goaltender Jake Paterson stood tall against a barrage of shots launched by a desperate Kalamazoo team that pushed back with a serious sense of urgency in Game 3 of the Central Division semifinals on Tuesday night.
Already down 2-0 in the series, the Wings rallied from a one-goal deficit early in the third period to take a 6-4 win over the Walleye.
Forward Brian Hart scored the game-winning goal on Kalamazoo’s 51st shot of the game with 2:41 left in regulation.
Peter Schneider, who scored three goals, added an empty-net goal with 21 seconds left.
Paterson stopped 47 of 52 shots, and veteran forward Kyle Bonis scored two goals as Toledo led the Wings 3-2 after two periods. But the Walleye were outshot 53-21 overall, including 18-4 in the third period when Kalamazoo scored four times. Toledo leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.
“We weren't ready to go tonight,” Walleye coach Dan Watson said. “We knew they were going to throw everything at us. They did not want to lose this game, and you could see that. They went out there and earned it. But we coughed up a lot of pucks. Patty saw too many Grade A chances. He saw too much rubber.
“We have to work right off the hop. We didn't expect them to play that hard. They were on top of us.”
IN PICTURES: Kalamazoo 6, Walleye 4
Yet, Toledo looked to have the momentum when forward Evan Rankin scored in the second period to give the Walleye a 3-2 lead before a sparse crowd of 1,139 at Wings Event Center.
The teams meet here again in Game 4 today at 7 p.m. A throng of about 300 Walleye supporters could be heard loud and clear throughout the game Tuesday, belting out numerous chants normally heard at the Huntington Center.
Toledo beat Wings goalie Nick Riopel four times on 21 shots.
Kalamazoo scored two goals over the first 6:21 of the third period to take a 4-3 lead. Kalamazoo tallied two goals just 45 seconds apart.
Walleye forward Dane Walters tied the game with 11:38 left in regulation on a perfect set up from Shane Berschbach.
But Hart sealed it on a one-timer after a quick rush up the ice. Just prior to the game winner, Hart checked Toledo’s Tylor Spink from behind into the boards behind the Toledo net, leading to the breakaway. No call was made on the play.
“It was 100 percent boarding. It was a penalty for sure,” Watson said. “Our guy lays down there and he can’t get back. It’s an odd-man rush, and it’s in the back of our net. But they are not going to call penalties there.”
Paterson, who was runner-up for ECHL goalie of the year, said the Walleye knew it wouldn’t come easy.
“They did dump quite a few pucks on net,” Paterson said. “In general, I think we’re not happy with how we played. They were skating harder and moving the puck more. That’s a credit to them. But it’s just one game. It’s nice we can get back at it tomorrow and turn the page.”
Rankin and Bonis, who also had an assist, each have four goals in the series. Dane Walters had a goal and an assist, while Shane Berschbach and Tyson Spink each had two assists in the game.
“They were shooting and creating. They kind of imposed their will tonight,” Bonis said. “It’s playoff hockey. They take a lot of pride in playing in their own rink. We weren’t quite ready for it. They caused us to turn the puck over. There are a couple things we need to clean up. It’s a close series. We’re still in a great spot.”
Schneider and Blake Kessel scored back-to-back goals to put the Wings instantly up 4-3 early in the third.
The Walleye had taken a 3-2 lead when Rankin tipped a shot by Tyson Spink right in front of the Kalamazoo net.
The game was tied at 1 after one period when Bonis gave the Walleye a 2-1 lead 49 seconds into the second period. The Wings tied it at 2 with a power-play goal 5:52 into the middle period.
The Walleye had grabbed the 2-1 lead on a power-play goal from Bonis, who banked in a shot off of a Kalamazoo defenseman’s skate.
Each team scored one goal in the opening period. The Wings carried the bulk of the play, finishing with a hefty 20-5 shot advantage.
Toledo scored on its third shot of the game on Bonis’ backhander with 13:15 left in the first period.
Kalamazoo tied the game at 1 on Justin Taylor's goal with 1:23 left in first. Taylor tipped in a shot from the point by Kattelus, and it beat Paterson down low.
Schneider capped a crisp passing play to score a power-play goal and tied at 2 with 5:52 left in the second period.
Paterson had a pad save on Cameron Darcy, who was in on a solo breakaway, to keep it tied at 2.
“Patty was unbelievable,” Watson said. “We didn’t give him too much help.”
At the game’s midpoint, it was tied 2-2 and Kalamazoo led 28-11 in shots.
“Twenty of those [total shots] came from outside the blue line that they just threw at Patty’s chest and stomach,” Watson said.
Riopel was back in net for Kalamazoo after starting Game 1. The contest lacked much flow with numerous stoppages throughout.
“It’s going to get harder and harder every game,” Watson said. “It’s a big game [today]. We’ll lay it all out there.”
FISH TALES: Walleye D Simon Denis is out for the remainder of the series with an upper-body injury. Denis suffered the injury during Game 2 when Wings captain Ben Wilson repeatedly cross-checked him the back. Wilson was suspended indefinitely. The earliest Denis will return is early next week.
D Justin Agosta replaced Denis in the lineup, making his playoff debut. Agosta was acquired in a trade in early March for forward Tyler Sikura.
The Wings Event Center, which was built in 1974, has a capacity of 5,113.
Walleye vs. Kalamazoo
Game 1: Walleye 4, Kalamazoo 3
Game 2: Walleye 4, Kalamazoo 1
Game 3: Kalamazoo 6, Walleye 4 (Walleye lead series 2-1)
Game 4: 7 p.m. today, at Kalamazoo
Game 5: 7:35 p.m. Friday, at Toledo
Game 6: 3 p.m. Sunday, at Kalamazoo*
Game 7: 7:35 p.m. Tuesday, at Toledo*
* if necessary
All games on BCSN and 1230 AM
Toledo Walleye players surround Walleye goalie Jake Paterson. KALAMAZOO WINGS/ALLIE LOCHART
From left, Kalamazoo’s Josh Pitt, Toledo’s Landon Oslanski, Walleye goalie Jake Paterson, and Toledo’s Nolan Zajac race for the puck near the Walleye net. Kalamazoo had to come back to win Game 3. KALAMAZOO WINGS/ALLIE LOCHART