ECHL: Toledo Walleye Clinching Kelly Cup Playoff Spot is No Surprise

Toledo Walleye/ECHL

The Toledo Walleye franchise has had much success going back to their ECHL debut in the 2009-10 season. Their success follows a string of playoff appearances by the Toledo team before them, the Toledo Storm. However, unlike the Storm, the Walleye have never won the Kelly Cup. With one of the deepest rosters in the league, they have a chance to earn a spot in the finals again this season and finally take home what every team in the ECHL plays for.

Toledo Walleye back to playoffs, hopeful for Finals appearance

The Walleye defeated the Indy Fuel on Friday, March 22, 2024, to secure a spot in the 2024 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Defenseman Matt Anderson scored two goals, including the game-winning goal, and newcomer Dalton Messina also had two goals, including his first professional goal, and Brandon Hawkins had two assists for the clinching win.

The Walleye have made the Kelly Cup Playoffs in nine of the 13 years that they’ve been in existence. Two of the times they missed the Kelly Cup Playoff were related to COVID. The ECHL canceled the second season in the 2019/20 season due to the outbreak, and Toledo opted out of the 2020/21 season due to COVID-19, missing two straight appearances.

The Walleye did make it to the Kelly Cup Final on two occasions and would lose both series. However, making the final series twice in a short period must be looked at as a successful run.

Behind first-year Head Coach Pat Mikesch and his coaching staff, Toledo will make their 10th trip to the playoffs in their 14th year in the ECHL. He has no issues pushing this team toward excellence and has done a tremendous job coaching and teaching this team to succeed. Mikesch accepted the position after former Head Coach Dan Watson accepted the same position with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL).

The playoff schedule will be as follows:

Round 1 will consist of the Divisional Semifinals, which start on April 17 and finish no later than May 1.

Round 2 begins on May 3 and will go through May 15.

Round 3 will be on May 17 through May 29.

The Kelly Cup Final will begin on May 31 and conclude no later than June 12.

Toledo has their work cut out for them as the league has more parity this season compared to years past. The forwards are a group that will lead this team, the defense now has some reinforcements, while the goaltending has been solid all season. While the Walleye are far from perfect as a team, they play a team game and play as a cohesive unit on the ice. Making the playoffs is nothing new to this organization, but this season, they have their chance to bring home the first championship in the history of the Walleye.

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