|2015–16 ECHL season|
|Home arena||Huntington Center|
|Owner(s)||Toledo Arena Sports, Inc.|
|General manager||Joe Napoli|
|Head coach||Derek Lalonde|
WCWA (1230 AM)
|Affiliates||Detroit Red Wings (NHL)
Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)
|Regular season titles||1 (2014–15)|
|Division Championships||1 (2014–15)|
The Toledo Walleye are a professional hockey team based in Toledo, Ohio. The Walleye is a member of the North Division of the Eastern Conference of the ECHL. The Walleye were founded in 1991 as the Toledo Storm and play their home games at the Huntington Center, which opened in 2009.
The team is currently owned and operated by Toledo Arena Sports, Inc. The current ownership group is a subsidiary of Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club, Inc., another ownership that owns and operates the Toledo Mud Hens.
Toledo Storm (1991–2007)
The Walleye were founded in 1991 as the Toledo Storm, playing their home games at Toledo Sports Arena across the river from downtown Toledo. The Storm were the first hockey team to play in Toledo since the International Hockey League's Toledo Goaldiggers suspended operations in 1986, eventually moving to Kansas City in 1990. In the Storm's inaugural season, the team won the West Division title and the Henry Brabham Cup after posting the league's best record in the regular season. The following year the Storm won its first Jack Riley Cup, defeating the Wheeling Thunderbirds in six games. The Storm came back the following season and won its second Riley Cup, defeating the Raleigh Icecaps in five games, becoming only the second team in league history to win back-to-back league titles (the first being the Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991 and 1992). The Storm were dominant in its first few years, winning four division titles in their first five seasons and posting a winning record in thirteen of the sixteen seasons the team played. The Storm won its second Brabham Cup in 2003 and made the American Conference finals during the 2005–06 season, ultimately losing to the Gwinnett Gladiators in five games. The Storm's final game came on April 19, 2007 during the 2007 North Division semifinals losing to in-state rival, Cincinnati Cyclones by a score of 4–0 getting swept in the series 3 games to 0. In sixteen seasons in the ECHL, the Storm posted a 610-395-103 record, winning two Riley Cups, two Brabham Cups and six division titles.
Sale to Toledo Arena Sports and Two Year Suspension
In 2007, Toledo Arena Sports, Inc., an Ohio-Not-For-Profit Corporation, purchased the rights to the Toledo, Ohio Territory from the ECHL. The new ownership group was planning to build a new state-of-the-art arena in downtown Toledo to replace the aging Sports Arena. Shortly after the sale, Toledo Arena Sports announced that after the 2006–07 season, the Storm would not compete again until the arena was completed and the ECHL granted the Storm a two-year voluntary suspension from competition.
In February 2008, General Manager Joe Napoli announced that former Storm goaltender, ECHL Hall of Famer and head coach from 2003–2007 Nick Vitucci would return to coach the franchise when it returned to the ice in 2009. One week after announcing Vitucci as head coach, Toledo Arena Sports Inc. renamed the Storm the "Walleye," in reference to the popular game fish that is abundant in the area.
Toledo Walleye (2009–Present)
At the ECHL Mid-Season Board of Governors meeting, the league announced that the Walleye would be members of the American Conference's North Division along with the Cincinnati Cyclones, Elmira Jackals, Johnstown Chiefs, Wheeling Nailers and Kalamazoo Wings. During the NHL's award ceremonies in Las Vegas, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland stated that the Walleye would become Detroit's ECHL affiliate for the 2009–10 season and that the Wings would send one of their three goaltender prospects (either Jordan Pearce, Thomas McCollum or Daniel Larsson) to Toledo for the season. On June 21, 2009, the Walleye announced the schedule for their inaugural season which opened on October 16 as the Walleye hosted the defending Brabham Cup champion Florida Everblades in the first of a three-game series. The Walleye would play fifteen of their first twenty-one games at home. On August 5, 2009, the Walleye announced a second affiliation agreement, becoming the ECHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago's AHL affiliate the Rockford IceHogs. On August 26, 2009, the Walleye signed their first player, centre Malcolm MacMillan. The six-year veteran joined the Walleye from the Belfast Giants of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom and had previous stints in the ECHL with the Florence Pride, Peoria Rivermen, Cincinnati Cyclones (all in 2003–04) and Reading Royals (2005–08).
Prior to the Walleye's home opener against Florida, head coach Nick Vitucci named defenseman Ryan Stokes as the team's captain and named centers Malcolm MacMillan and Adam Hobson. Despite a strong effort, the Walleye dropped their opener to Florida 2–1 in front of a sell-out crowd of 8,000, the largest crowd to ever watch a pro hockey game in Toledo. The Walleye would return the next night and rookie goaltender Jordan Pearce would stop 35 of 37 shots faced as the Walleye scored three goals in the final period to get past the Everblades for the team's first win, 5–2. The initial home series with Florida would end the next night in entertaining fashion as Toledo defenseman J.C. Sawyer scored the game-winning goal with 55 seconds left in overtime as the Walleye won two of three games of the weekend series, 4–3. On October 20, Toledo defenseman Jamie Milam was named the Sher-wood Player of the Week for his five-point performance over the three game series with Florida.
On December 31, defenseman J.C. Sawyer and forward Maxime Tanguay were selected to the American Conference All-Star team and played at the All-Star Game at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California on January 20. On January 20, Sawyer was named the captain of the American Conference All-Stars.
At the end of the regular season, defenseman J.C. Sawyer was named as a First Team selection to the All-ECHL team and won the Defenseman of the Year award, while center Maxime Tanguay was named to the All-Rookie team.
The Walleye clinched their first playoff appearance on March 31, following a shootout loss to the Johnstown Chiefs, becoming the seventh of eight teams in the American Conference to clinch a berth in the Kelly Cup playoffs. The Walleye would finish the regular season in eighth place in the American Conference, guaranteeing the team a matchup with the American Conference regular season champions, the Charlotte Checkers, in the American Conference Quarterfinals. Toledo would host Charlotte in the first two games of the series, then the third game would be played at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, as well as games four and five if necessary. Toledo, behind a hat trick from winger Adam Keefe, claimed a 7–2 victory over top-seeded Charlotte in Game One of the series. Centre Tony Romano, defenceman J.C. Sawyer and wingers Akim Aliu and Derek Nesbitt would also contribute to the victory, the first for the organization since Game Two of the 2006 American Conference Finals against the Gwinnett Gladiators.
On July 27, 2009, the Walleye introduced Spike, their costumed mascot at a Toledo Mud Hens baseball game. Spike is a yellow anthropomorphic walleye, adorned with a white Walleyes jersey, blue gloves, helmet and shoes and a gap tooth smile. Spike's nemesis is Catrick, a fuzzy blue cat, with a fishing vest and bright yellow boots. The two like to take cheap shots at each other during games.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, OTL = Overtime losses, SOL = shootout losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|Kelly Cup Champions †||League Leader in points ¤||Conference Champions *||Division Champions ^||Qualified for Playoffs ᴾ|
|2009–10 ᴾ||72||35||30||2||5||77||254||274||1452||3rd, North||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1–3 (Charlotte)|
|2010–11||72||33||33||4||2||72||239||255||1198||4th, North||Did not qualify|
|2011–12||72||28||38||2||4||62||189||258||1140||4th, North||Did not qualify|
|2012–13 ᴾ||72||37||26||5||4||83||224||195||982||2nd, North||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 1–3 (Cincinnati)|
|2013–14||72||21||44||4||3||49||193||268||1020||5th, North||Did not qualify|
|2014–15 ¤||72||50||15||5||2||107||281||182||785||1st, North||Won in Conference Quarterinals, 4–3 (Wheeling)
Won in Conference Semifinals, 4–3 (Fort Wayne)
Lost in Conference Finals, 3–4 (South Carolina)
- Nick Vitucci, 2009–2014
- Dan Watson, 2014
- Derek Lalonde 2014–
Awards and honors
Henry Brabham Cup
All-ECHL First Team
All-ECHL Second Team
All-ECHL Rookie Team
Defenseman of the Year
John Brophy Award
- Monroe, Mark (August 4, 2009). "Walleye, Red Wings sign deal". Toledo Blade. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- Monroe, Mark (August 5, 2009). "Blackhawks, Walleye join forces". Toledo Blade. Retrieved August 7, 2009.
- Vardon, Joe (February 13, 2008). "Ex-Storm coach Vitucci is first hire of next hockey team". Toledo Blade. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
- Vardon, Joe (February 20, 2008). "Mud Hens snag catchy "Walleye" as moniker for hockey franchise". Toledo Blade.
- "ECHL Concludes Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting" (Press release). ECHL. March 30, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2009.
- Monroe, Mark (June 21, 2009). "New Walleye will revive old IHL rivalry with Kalamazoo". Toledo Blade. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- Sipple, George (June 19, 2009). "Alex Ovechkin has fun beating Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk". Detroit Free Press.
- Monroe, Mark (August 3, 2009). "Red Wings link with Walleye". Toledo Blade. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- Monroe, Mark (June 21, 2009). "Walleye season starts Oct. 16". Toledo Blade. Retrieved June 22, 2009.
- Monroe, Mark (August 27, 2009). "MacMillan is Walleye's first player". Toledo Blade. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- Angie, Marie (October 16, 2009). "Ryan Stokes named captain of the Toledo Walleye". Examiner.
- Monroe, Mark (October 17, 2009). "Walleye iced in debut". Toledo Blade. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
- Monroe, Mark (October 18, 2009). "Pearce shines in first win for Walleye". Toledo Blade. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
- Monroe, Mark (October 19, 2009). "Sawyer's goal lifts Walleye in overtime". Toledo Blade. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
- "Toledo's Milam Named Sher-Wood ECHL Player Of The Week" (Press release). ECHL. October 20, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
- Staff (January 1, 2010). "2 from Walleye named ECHL all-stars". Toledo Blade. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- Staff (January 20, 2010). "Walleye's Sawyer all-star captain". Toledo Blade. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- Staff (April 8, 2010). "Walleye's Sawyer named top ECHL defenseman". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- "ECHL All-Rookie Team Announced" (Press release). ECHL. March 31, 2010. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- Staff (April 1, 2010). "Walleye lose, but qualify for playoffs". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
- Monroe, Mark (April 4, 2010). "Walleye get Charlotte in first round of playoffs". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
- Monroe, Mark (April 7, 2010). "Keefe ignites Walleye". Toledo Blade. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- "Outdoor hockey coming to ECHL, Toledo". ECHL. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
- "Toledo Walleye - Team Info - Roster". Retrieved 2015-01-14.
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