Returning home after an East Coast road trip, the Toledo Walleye pulled out a win on Friday by defeating the Chicago Express 3-2 at the Huntington Center. The Fish took two points from the Express in their last visit to Toledo of the season and remain just four points behind Chicago in the race for the eighth playoff spot.
Toledo jumped out to an early lead in the first period when Nick Oslund scored a beauty at the four-minute mark. Bryan Rufenach set up the goal by stealing the puck behind the net of Peter Mannino and fed it to Oslund right in front of the goal.
Their lead doubled to two midway though the game when Harrison Reed netted his seventh of the game on a power-play opportunity. Reed snatched up a rebound in front of Mannino and waited patiently for an open lane. A quick shot landed squarely in the back of the goal to make it 2-0 Toledo.
Chicago went on to add two goals of their own but not before one of their skaters Chaz Johnson was ejected from the game after continuing a fight with Toledo’s newest tough guy, the 6’8″ Riley Emmerson.
Mike Embach and Chad Painchaud of the Express helped Chicago tie the game at two as they solved their former teammate Rob Nolan with quick goals late in the second period. This marked the first time Nolan had faced his old squad as a member of the Walleye.
The gritty contest was just winding down and looking like it would go into overtime late in the third when Toledo was awarded a power play on a delay of game penalty to Chicago’s Aaron Marvin. Adam Estoclet seized the opportunity and buried the puck only 14 seconds later for the game-winning goal.
The Walleye improved to 17-20-1-2 with the win and will get another chance to earn a pair of points Saturday night as they welcome the 17-18-3-3 Reading Royals to the Huntington Center. It’s Hockey History Night in Toledo with the Fish wearing special Toledo Hornets jerseys.