EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Evansville IceMen were defeated by the Toledo Walleye for the first time at the Ford Center this season after losing a 1-0 lead obtained early in the second period on Saturday. Prior to tonight’s game, the IceMen were perfect in three home appearances against the Walleye at (3-0-0), but were unable to answer an early third period goal scored by Toledo Right Winger Nino Musitelli. The IceMen conclude their three-game home stand with a (1-2-0) record.
Musitelli’s game-winning goal officially came 4:49 into the third frame and was assisted by Toledo Defenseman Erik Spady and Right Winger Travis Novak. Musitelli was credited as the game’s first star, finishing the game with the game-deciding goal, one assist, and a +1 rating. The Toledo Right Winger now has two goals in two games for the Walleye this season.
Evansville spend the latter part of the third period on the attack as they attempted to equalize and send the game to overtime for a second straight night. IceMen Left Winger Matt Schepke generated the biggest threat for Evansville to even things up with Toledo with just 1:02 remaining in regulation. Schepke’s shot on goal came to rest just inches from the goal line until Toledo Goaltender Jordan Pearce was able to lodge the puck from the area. This opportunity came while the IceMen had the extra attacker on the ice.
IceMen Left Winger Josh Beaulieu scored the lone goal for the home team against the Walleye. Evansville’s leading scorer opened the scoring with his 17th goal of the season, this one on the power play, 5:03 into the second period. Beaulieu earned the vote for second star of the game with the goal. Assists on the ice-breaking tally were from IceMen Centers Nathan Moon and Todd Robinson. The 19th power play assist racked up by Robinson is now tops in the ECHL, while the IceMen team captain’s 34th assist is still second best in the league.
Toledo equalled the IceMen opening marker 11:22 into the second period when Center Adam Hobson, third star of the game, scored an easy rebound goal on the power play. The initial shot on the first Walleye goal was from Defenseman Olivier Dame-Malka, who ended up with the first assist. The power play goal scored by Hobson was the first Walleye goal scored on the man advantage in the new year. Toledo had gone 0-for-24 since last triumphing on the power play on Dec. 31.
IceMen Defenseman Aaron Gens left Saturday night’s game with an apparent upper body injury from a questionable check from Toledo Defenseman Cody Lampl. Although the hit went unpenalized, Evansville’s Schepke stepped in for his downed teammate and engaged in a fight with Lampl that put both players in the penalty box with five-minute fighting infractions. Gens’ injury comes just one night after IceMen Defenseman Anton Blomqvist exited the lineup with a lower body injury.
The winning goaltender on Saturday was Toledo’s Pearce, who saved 22-of-23 shots faced, on his way to a .957 save percentage. Pearce elevates his record to (11-7-1) on the season for Toledo.
IceMen Goaltender Paul Karpowich received the loss after saving 30-of-32 shots faced and accumulating a .938 save percentage.. Karpowich’s record falls to (7-9-2) on the season. During the three-game home stand, Karpowich has saved 90-of-96 shots en rout to a .938 save percentage.
Evansville’s power play went 1-for-3 against Tolledo and has gone an overall 3-for-5 in the last two games. The IceMen penalty killing unit allowed one goal on five Walleye man advantages and has only allowed two goals all season to Toledo on 24 opportunities.
Evansville concludes its home stand with a (1-2-0) record and are now (11-14-0) at home this season. Since the new year, however, the IceMen remain respectable at the Ford Center with a (4-2-0) record. Evansville’s 27 home games played this season is most in the ECHL to this point.
The IceMen decline their overall record to (16-23-4) for 36 points on the season and drop back to fifth place in the North Division via a Kalamazoo win on Saturday night. The Walleye improve their record to (21-16-4) 46 on the season.
The IceMen will travel to Cincinnati on Friday, Jan.25 to face the first place Cyclones in yet another North Division showdown. The game will start at 6:35 p.m. and can be heard on ‘Magic 98.5’ FM and 1400 AM WEOA, as well as the rest of the IceMen Radio Network.