ECHL: Toledo Walleye Remembering “the Save”

Former Toledo Walleye goaltender Jeff Lerg was no ordinary goaltender. He was undersized, but he played a Dominik Hasek style where he flipped around like a fish out of water. However, he was successful as a goaltender and made it look easy between the pipes. He did not make it to the NHL and never won a major award. He was not an elite goaltender, but made the most of his opportunities at 5-foot-6.

Lerg came to the Walleye on July 16, 2012, after playing overseas and made a name for himself rather quickly. After successful seasons in Toledo, he went overseas again. After two seasons, he returned to the Walleye in a backup role for one last run.

During his career in Toledo, he would be remembered for many things, from on-ice heroics to his work off the ice in the community. However, one thing on the ice he will be remembered mostly for the save.

On February 14, 2016, the Toledo Walleye were at home against the Fort Wayne Komets. These being two rivals, the game was close and edgy. The game went back and forth, with both teams seeing glorious scoring chances, only to be denied by the opposing goaltender. The two teams were always fun to watch as the rivalry grew more intense year after year.

The game stood at two goals apiece as regulation time ended, and the game was to be decided in overtime. The 5,728 in attendance anxiously awaited the next goal, which would be the game. Fort Wayne would get the puck in their end and skate in on Lerg on a two-on-one. The puck came to the right side to forward Garrett Meurs, who has a right-handed shot. He would skate in on Lerg, who would proceed to go down for an acrobatic save. However, Meurs would quickly go to his backhand to score the game-winner. Lerg was up to the test as he, now flat on his back, would swipe his left hand, his catching glove, along the ice and swipe the puck away for the game-saving stop. The crowd erupted, and Lerg bounced back to his feet and was ready to make another save. Toledo would eventually win the game 3-2, but if it was not for Lerg, they would have seen defeat.

The Walleye would improve to 29-13-5 after the win. That would be their second win in a row and get them to a .604 winning percentage. Lerg would finish the season with a 32-9-3 record, a .920 save percentage, and a 2.367 goals-against-average. Lerg has since retired and runs a goaltending school in Michigan.

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