|2016–17 ECHL season|
|Home arena||Huntington Center|
|Colors||Powder blue, navy blue, gold, white
|Owner(s)||Toledo Arena Sports, Inc.|
|General manager||Neil Neukam|
|Head coach||Dan Watson|
WCWA (1230 AM)
|Affiliates||Detroit Red Wings (NHL)
Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)
|Regular season titles||1 (2014–15)|
|Division Championships||2 (2014–15, 2015–16)|
The Toledo Walleye are a professional hockey team based in Toledo, Ohio. The Walleye are members of the Central Division of the Western 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 to 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 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.
The Walleye opened their inaugural season on October 16, 2009, hosting the defending Brabham Cup champion Florida Everblades in the first of a three-game series. Prior to the Walleye's home opene, head coach Nick Vitucci named defenseman Ryan Stokes as the team's captain. Despite a strong effort, the Walleye dropped their opener to Florida 1–2 in front of a sell-out crowd of 8,000, the largest crowd to ever watch a pro hockey game in Toledo at the time. 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. 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. 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 would finish the regular season in eighth place in the American Conference leading to a matchup with the American Conference regular season champions, the Charlotte Checkers. Toledo, behind a hat trick from winger Adam Keefe, claimed a 7–2 victory over top-seeded Charlotte in game one of the series, the first playoff game win for the organization since game two of the 2006 American Conference Finals against the Gwinnett Gladiators. However, the Walleye would lose the next three games to Charlotte and were eliminated from the playoffs in four games.
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 Cat Trick, a fuzzy blue cat, with a fishing vest and bright yellow boots. The two like to take cheap shots at each other during games.
The first ever ECHL outdoor hockey event was at Fifth Third Field on Saturday, December 27, 2014. The Walleye lost 2-1 to the visiting Kalamazoo Wings. On January 5, the Walleye fell to the Fort Wayne Komets 3-2 in a shootout. In addition to the Walleye games, the annual Battle of the Badges game between the Toledo Police Department and Toledo Fire Department occurred on December 31, the U.S. National Under 18 Team defeated Adrian College 6-1 in an exhibition on January 1, and Bowling Green played Robert Morris to a 2-2 draw on January 4. Anthony Wayne High School, Saint Ignatius High School, Saint John's High School, Whitmer High School, and many other youth and adult teams also participated in the Winterfest. Over 10 days, an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people attended events at the stadium.
This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Toledo Walleye. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Toledo Walleye seasons
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
|2011–12||72||28||38||2||4||62||189||258||1140||4th, North||Did not qualify|
|2012–13||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||Lost in Conference Finals, 3–4 (South Carolina)|
|2015–16||72||47||20||2||3||99||225||174||665||1st, North||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 3–4 (Reading)|
|10||Berschbach, ShaneShane Berschbach||F||R||25||2014||Clawson, Michigan||Walleye|
|Denis, SimonSimon Denis||D||L||24||2016||Burnaby, British Columbia||Walleye|
|2||Leone, MichaelMichael Leone||F||L||28||2014||Detroit, Michigan||Walleye|
|MacDonald, JacobJacob MacDonald||D||L||23||2016||Brighton, Michigan||Walleye|
|15||Wuthrich, AustinAustin Wuthrich||F||R||22||2015||Bakersfield, California||Walleye|
|Zajac, NolanNolan Zajac||D||L||23||2016||Winnipeg, Manitoba||Walleye|
- Nick Vitucci, 2009–2014
- Dan Watson, 2014 (interim), 2016–present
- Derek Lalonde, 2014–2016
Awards and honors
All-ECHL First Team
All-ECHL Second Team
All-ECHL Rookie Team
North Division Champions
Henry Brabham Cup
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Safety Officials Battle at Winterfest". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "U.S. team shows off skills against Adrian". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "Frozen, wet Falcons tie Robert Morris". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "Toledo Walleye Winterfest". Toledo Blade. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
- "Toledo Walleye - Team Roster". 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2016-07-12.
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