Walleye Rekindle Winning Ways Before Hockey Heritage Weekend

Rebounds are as much of a part of hockey as slap shots and big hits, but sometimes the word is best used in the figurative sense rather than the literal form. Particularly for the Walleye, as rebound is the perfect way to describe last week’s stretch of games. After falling out of first place thanks to a stretch that yielded two wins out of seven games, Toledo has come back to win four straight games! Last Sunday sparked the streak with a 9-1 dismantling of the Cincinnati Cyclones, which was promptly followed up with a perfect 3 game road trip down to Wichita and Missouri. Paterson and Lerg both looked great in their wins, and Coach Delmore has gotten the defense back on track. As a result, Toledo has fought back to second in the ECHL heading into a three game home stand. The weekend will be special for the entire Toledo hockey community, as we will welcome the second class of the Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame! Your inductees for the 2017 class are: Dirk Graham, Paul Tantardini, Greg Jablonski, William Chalmers, and Mark Deazeley.

Before we get into the inductees let’s get a little bit of background for the Toledo Blades/Hornets. The Toledo Blades started out as the Omaha Knights before moving to Ohio for the 1963-64 season to become the Blades, and then were renamed the Toledo Hornets before the start of the 1970-71 season. So even though they have two separate names, they are the same team. The two inductees from the Blades/Hornets era in this year’s Hall of Fame class are forwards William “Chuck” Chalmers and Greg Jablonski. Both men contributed greatly to not only Toledo’s hockey history, but to that of the International Hockey League (IHL), which was the league the Blades and Hornets played in back then. Chuck Chalmers was a part of the Omaha Knights team that became the Toledo Blades, having been with them since 1960. Upon the relocation of the franchise to Toledo he remained with the Blades and Hornets for seven of the remaining nine years of his career, winning two Turner Cups with Blades. Chalmers ranks among the IHL all-time greats as he has the third most assists (843), fifth most points (1,235), and is the IHL record holder for most consecutive games with a point scored at 40 straight contests. In terms of Toledo hockey achievements, he ranks second on the all-time point list with 562 points scored for the Goaldiggers. Now, who would be the only player with more points in Toledo hockey history? Why, none other than his teammate and fellow inductee, Greg Jablonski! Just like Chalmers, Greg was a member of the Knights’ team that moved to Toledo. A prolific point scorer, the Manitoba native averaged 62.3 points a season during his ten years with the Blades and Hornets. The most points scored by the forward in a season was 85, once in his rookie year with Omaha (1960-61) and again with the Blades in the 1964-65 campaign. Thanks to his natural ability to get the puck in the net, Jablonski was able to earn 646 points during his 742 game Toledo hockey career. Another distinguishing characteristic of the forward was his clean style of play; he was only penalized an average of 8.4 minutes every season during 13 seasons of IHL hockey. Our next two inductees were also teammates while they played for Toledo, and those two men would be Dirk Graham and Paul Tantardini.

Dirk Graham Blackhawks.jpg

Dirk Graham earned the captaincy while with the Blackhawks.

The Toledo Goaldiggers were created before the 1974-75 season after the Toledo Hornets left for Lansing, MI at the conclusion of the 1973-74 season. The Goaldiggers played 12 seasons of hockey and produced many legendary players, including our next pair of inductees: Dirk Graham and Paul Tantardini.  Together the duo won the Turner Cup in 1982 and 1983, afterwards Graham’s IHL performance propelled him to the NHL. Before the arrival of Graham to the Goaldiggers Tantardini also helped the team win two additional Turner Cups in 1975 and 1978. Both players ended up having very different careers despite the time spent together with Toledo. Tantardini was the 98th pick in the 1973 NHL draft and played for the Goaldiggers during 8 out of his 11 years of professional hockey, accumulating 369 points with 134 goals. The most impressive stat of them all was his penalties in minutes (PIM), coming in with a staggering 1,958 PIM while playing for Toledo. Due to his play in the Glass City his line was call ‘Murder, Inc.’ which helps explain why Tantardini found himself in the box so much. Paul was everything we loved about old time hockey: no holding back, high physicality, and a bruiser attitude that drew fans to the rink. Graham, on the other hand, was a skill player throughout his 16-year professional career. Drafted 89th overall in the 1979 NHL Draft Graham spent three of his first five pro seasons with the Goaldiggers, where he scored 182 goals and earned 356 points over 235 games with two seasons scoring over 100 points. After three seasons with Toledo Graham made his NHL debut during the 1983-84 season with the Minnesota North Stars, where he played for five seasons before joining the Chicago Blackhawks for eight seasons until the end of his career. Dirk also coached for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Springfield Falcons of the AHL for four years between the two teams. Over 13 seasons in the NHL Graham played in 862 regular season and playoff contests, scoring 489 points during that time, and still holds the record for most NHL games played by a former Toledo hockey player.Now, our next inductee wasn’t able to get a shot in the NHL, but he is the only inductee from the Toledo Storm in this year’s class. Watch out for smoke, because it’s time to meet Mark “The Diesel” Deazeley!

2016 Hockey Hall of Fame.jpg

The inaugural class of the Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame was honored on January 30th of 2016. Ted Garvin and Virgil Gladieux were inducted posthumously. 

Finally, a representative from the ECHL in our 2017 Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame class! Mark Deazeley played eight seasons of professional hockey for five different teams: the Fort Wayne Komets, Springfield Falcons, Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, Austin Ice Bats, and of course the Toledo Storm. Deazeley played 215 of his 372 regular season games with the Storm, along with 43 playoff games during four separate playoff runs. A member of the 1993 and 1994 Riley Cup Championship teams, Mark was one of the most reliable scorers during both championship runs. During the 1993 playoffs Mark tallied 14 points in 15 games (0.93 points/game) and blitzed the competition during the 1994 playoffs with an overwhelming 26 points in 14 games (1.86 points/game). Of those 26 points in the 1994 playoffs 16 were goals, which still stands as the second most playoff goals in a single postseason. The forward from Ontario was as much at home in the penalty box as the ice, averaging over 144 penalties in minute per season with the Storm. Deazeley and the Storm made the 1998 and 1999 playoffs, but wasn’t able to recapture the magic of those successful 1993 and 1994 runs. Though Deazeley signed a contract with the Winnipeg Jets, he was never able to make it to the ice for an NHL game.

The 2017 Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame is loaded with legends from the past that truly deserve to have their names hung in the rafters. Hopefully we will be able to induct more Walleye members to the Hall of Fame in the coming years as well, though we have a lot of talent to pick from all of the franchises. With Evan Rankin scoring his 200th and 201st point as a Walleye last weekend, he has made a solid case to get his name in the Hall of Fame. Hirschfeld, Berschbach, Jenks, and Lerg are all up for future consideration as well thanks to their achievements in a Walleye uniform. This weekend however isn’t about considering future members; it’s about celebrating those who have made it! Congratulations to the entire 2017 Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame Class, and be sure to witness their induction prior the start of Saturday’s contest against the Wheeling Nailers!






Photo Credit:
Featured Image obtained from:
Dirk Graham photo found on:
2016 Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame picture is property of the Toledo Blade:

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