The moment we have been waiting for has finally arrived! Your Toledo Walleye (0-0-0-0) are set to begin the season with a road contest against the Atlanta Gladiators (0-0-0-0). After a 47-20-2-3 season last year, Toledo comes back with a roster that has 14 returning players of the 22 to make the team. Toledo’s full roster is as follows:
Michael Leone, Shane Berschbach, Tyson and Tylor Spink, Alex Globke, Tyler Sikura, Carter Sandlak, Erik Bradford, Alden Hirschfeld, Dane Walters, Mathew Santos, A.J. Jenks, Kyle Bonis, and Evan Rankin.
Michael Leone is out for tonight’s game due to a concussion, So some mock lines that could be run are:
Tyson Spink-Bradford-Tylor Spink
Our top two mock lines would be a threat every time they took the ice, there is an abundance of talent within those lines that will make any defensive pairing anxious. Last season the Spink twins got a lot of work with Sikura and Bonis, but I feel like they are gonna drop down a line. Now possible defensive pairings:
Jared Nightingale-Jacob MacDonald
Beau Schmitz-Nolan Zajac
Derek Docken-Simon Denis
Captain Nightingale will almost certainly be the top defensive pairing along with MacDonald, he brings the offense while Nightingale brings the boom. Schmitz and Docken will help get college grads Zajac and Denis accustomed to ECHL hockey. I expect a lot out of Zajac in particular, because he participated in the Minnesota Wild training camp. He has the skill, time to put it on the ice. Finally, your goaltenders for the Walleye:
Jake Paterson (18-9-1-1 last season)
Cal Heeter (11-10-2-0 last season)
I envision Paterson being the number 1 goaltender going into the season, he has shown improvement and commitment within Toledo and knows the system and coaches well. Heeter is a wild card to me, he spent time in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) as well as the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) with average results. Perhaps getting back onto American ice will re-energize his career.
Toledo will be taking on an Atlanta Gladiators team that has missed the playoffs the last three seasons, finishing last years campaign with a 34-31-5-2 record. Formerly the Gwinnett Gladiators, the Boston Bruins ECHL affiliate’s Head Coach Andy Brandt will be entering his second full year as head coach after replacing former head coach Rick Emmett. Atlanta is going to need a good start in order to turn their franchise around, so expect them to come out of the gate swinging. This will be Toledo’s first back-to-back road series as well, as the Walleye and Gladiators will battle it out tomorrow night as well. Let’s get this season started right T-Town!
Toledo Walleye Stats obtained from:
Player and Coach info obtained from:
Info about Atlanta Gladiators from their website:
Pictures taken by Jarrod Maneval, used with his permission.