ECHL: Toledo Walleye Prepared for Lengthy Playoff Run

Toledo Walleye Celebrate a goal
Photo: Hector Urica | Inside The Rink

The 2023/24 regular season for the Toledo Walleye is winding down and the playoffs are right around the corner. Since they have already acquired a playoff spot and the Central Division with 101 points, they do not have anything of significance to play for. While they do have a playoff spot wrapped up, their first- round opponent remains a mystery as they wait until the last few days of the season to see how things sort themselves out.

Walleye have all the ingredients to be successful in the playoffs

The Kelly Cup playoffs are right around the corner and the intense excitement is building. The opposition for the Walleye in the first round is down to three teams: the Kalamazoo Wings, the Fort Wayne Komets, and the Wheeling Nailers. It should be no surprise that these are the teams who could face Toledo as the Walleye have faced each of these teams at one point or another in the playoffs in previous seasons. Toledo has faced the Nailers in the old ECHL days as the Toledo Storm in the playoffs.

Since becoming the Walleye in the 2009-10 season, Toledo has faced Kalamazoo, Fort Wayne, and Wheeling in the playoffs at least once. Toledo is 14-10 against the Komets, 4-3 against the Wings, and 8-3 against the Nailers in previous playoff rounds. While the dates and opponents are yet to be determined, there has been confirmation that the first two home games for the Walleye will take place on April 19, 2024, and April 20, 2024, at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo.

Before the Walleye can concentrate on the playoffs, they must first handle business in the three remaining games in the regular season. Coincidentally, their remaining opponents are two of their three potentially first-round opponents. On Friday, April 12, Toledo will travel to West Virginia to face Wheeling. Toledo will return to the Huntington Center on April 13 to face the Komets, then to April 14 when they face Fort Wayne at their arena to close out the season.

Toledo is sitting in a good spot right now, and we all know the playoffs are a different beast. Kelly Cup favorites have been eliminated early, and this year may be no different but Toledo is trying to focus on changing that. Head Coach Pat Mikesch has his team focused and ready to go, while the team is healthy and determined to make a statement in this year’s Kelly Cup playoffs.

Players to focus on heading into the playoffs include forwards Brandon Hawkins, who leads the team in scoring, and Trenton Bliss, who is second in points but still a dangerous player. Defenseman Riley McCourt has been rock solid in all three zones and adds scoring from the blue line. Goaltenders John Lehtemon and Jan Bednar will be under the microscope as they are out to prove their season was not a fluke. The new additions to the roster late in the season could also have a big playoff, as most of them are playing for roster jobs next season in Toledo and are ones to watch. Toledo wants to bring another championship back to the city, and this playoff season boasts the roster to do that.

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