ECHL: Toledo Walleye Tied for Most Points in ECHL

Credit: Toledo Walleye

The city of Toledo, Ohio, has been blessed with some terrific hockey over the years. From the Toledo Goaldiggers to the Toledo Storm to the current team of the Toledo Walleye, the city has been spoiled by the success of its hockey teams. This season is no different as the Walleye are tied for the most points in the ECHL with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Toledo is 4-0-1 in their last five, outscoring the opponents 26-19, and are 8-0-1-1 in the last ten games.

Sitting on top of the Central Division with a 22-4-2-3 record, Toledo has 49 points and a .790 winning percentage, and a 12-point lead over the second-place Fort Wayne Komets. They have scored 141 goals and giving up 104 while posting a home record of 9-3-1-3 and an outstanding road record of 13-1-1. Special teams have also been a factor in the winning record, as the power play is operating at a 29.3% clip, and three penalty kill is killing penalties at an 81.3% rate.

The success of the team has been about the entire lineup contributing, with eight players with 20 or more points and six players with ten goals or more. Forward Brandon Hawkins leads the team in scoring with 45 points in 19 goals and 26 assists while posting a +8. Hawkins is the lone All-Star representative at this year’s event in Savannah, Georgia, on Monday, January 15, 2024, at the Enmarket Arena.

Goaltender Jan Bednar has been a machine between the pipes as he has a record of 11-1-1 with a goals-against-average of 2.85 and a save percentage of .885 with one shutout. He has been a breath of fresh air as teammate John Letheman has been inconsistent for the most part.

Toledo has been flourishing since their first season in 2009-10 and has finished no lower than fifth in the division. The Walleye has five division titles (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022) and two conference championships (2018-19 and 2021-22) to their credit but have yet to win the Kelly Cup, given to the winners of the final round of the Kelly Cup playoffs. They did make an appearance in the finals against the Newfoundland Growlers in 2018-19, losing the series four games to two.

The success of the team has been built around General Manager Neil Neukam, who has continually built this roster to be competitive with the ever-changing rosters year after year. The Walleye have had the luxury of having some of the best leadership behind the bench a hockey team could ask for. Former coaches include Nick Vitucci, Derek Lalonde, Dan Watson, and current coach Pat Mikesch. Lalonde is now head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, and Watson is coaching the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Another factor in the team’s success off the ice has been the attendance. This season, Toledo has had 125,451 fans walk through the Huntington Center to support their team, an average of 7,840 fans per game. That average is third in the league this season, behind Fort Wayne (7,843) and the league-leading Jacksonville Icemen, who stand at 8,156 fans per home contest.

Toledo has had some impressive hockey teams in the past and present. Year after year, the Walleye are a success on the ice, and this year is no different. With a solid foundation on and off the ice, along with tremendous talent, the franchise is looking for another lengthy playoff run. Whether they make a deep run this season or not, the Toledo Walleye are one of the finest-tuned organizations in the ECHL.

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