ECHL: Walleye’s Sawchuk Playing Pivotal Role, Provides Secondary Scoring

Photo via Grand Rapids Griffins

As the Toledo Walleye prepare for game three first-round series against the Kalamazoo Wings, They know game three will be different as the Wings will come out flying. The Walleye have to play their game in what could be a wild game as Kalamazoo looks to get back into the series. One player that has played a pivotal role in the regular season and playoffs has been center Riley Sawchuk.

Walleye’s Sawchuk making a difference on the ice

The 5-foot-11 and 181-pound Sawchuk is not the biggest player on the ice, but he plays a big game. During his career, he has been consistent in his play and offensive contributions. His elevation and development to a player that Toledo has high praise for has been sensational to watch his pro career unfold.

Before his pro career began, he played four seasons in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the Tri-City Americans and Edmonton Oil Kings. He took his game to another level and became an important player as he began to adapt to the WHL and grow his game. At the end of his junior career, he would produce 62 goals and 98 assists for 160 points in 259 games and was ready to take that next step.

His next step would be playing for Mount Royal University of USports. There, he continued to sharpen his skill set by adding small things like adding muscle and more speed. This method worked to his advantage as he would go on a tremendous offensive surge, scoring 35 goals and 52 assists for 87 points in 47 games over three seasons.

The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL) would sign Sawchuk to a professional tryout (PTO) for the remainder of the 2022-23 season and a standard player contract (SPC) for the upcoming 2023-24 season. He would turn pro at the end of the 2022-23 season and score three goals in 23 games.

He would make his way down to Toledo and do some fine-tuning of his game and further develop his all-around game. He has found success with the Walleye, providing secondary scoring. He has a lethal shot, excellent passing, and shooting accuracy as part of his overall skill set.

This season, Sawchuk had 27 goals and 25 assists for 52 points in 50 games. He also had 24 penalty minutes, two power-play goals, and six game-winning goals. As a younger player, turned into an offensive threat and could be in for bigger things next season. He has adapted to the pro level of hockey quite well and has shown improvement in his 200-foot game, making him a dual threat on offense and defense.

He has shown that he can score in the most critical of games, scoring two goals in two playoff games for Toledo this postseason against the Wings. After being reassigned to the Walleye last week, he wants to prove that he can play at both levels. He could become a secret weapon as Kalamazoo focuses on high-scoring forwards Brandon Hawkins and Trenton Bliss. This may allow Sawchuk more time and space to create in the offensive zone, putting up solid numbers as the walleye looks to grab game three.

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