Game Day Preview: Toledo Walleye (15-7-2-1) vs Atlanta Gladiators (12-12-1-1)

Grab your belt and get in the rink, because it’s time for Walleye hockey with a wrestling flair! Tonight Toledo will celebrate some of the most famous personalities in wrestling with their game day promo: Legends of Wrestling. Expect more than a few ‘WOOOO’s to fill the air tonight, as the Atlanta Gladiators will try to take the belt away from the Walleye. The Gladiators have hit a rough patch of games lately, having lost six of their eight games played in December. The Walleye haven’t fared much better though, as Toledo only has two wins out of six games in the final month of 2017. Having dropped to seventh in the ECHL, Toledo looks to get back on track and earn a much needed win at home.

Toledo Walleye

League Standing: 7th with 33 points
Western Conference Standing: 4th out of 14 teams
Central Division Standing: 1st out of 7 teams
Goals Scored Average: 3.32, with 83 goals scored tied for 8th
Goals Against Average: 2.68, with 67 goals allowed ranking 7th
Power Play (PP): 17.0%, percentage is ranked for 16th, have 16 goals on 94 PP opportunities
Penalty Kill (PK): 91.0%, percentage is ranked 1st with 8 PP goal allowed on 89 PKs

Atlanta Gladiators

League Standing: 15th with 26 points
Eastern Conference Standing: 8th out of 13 teams
South Division Standing: 4th out of 7 teams
Goals Scored Average: 2.85, with 74 goals scored tied for 16th 
Goals Against Average: 3.23, with 84 goals allowed ranking 20th
Power Play: 17.4%, percentage is tied for 12th, have 19 PP goals on 109 PP opportunities
Penalty Kill: 81.9%, percentage is ranked 18th with 19 PP goal allowed on 105 PKs

Past 5 Games
2-3-0-0 in their last five contests, won last night against the Brampton Beast 5-2 to snap a three game skid.

Atlanta: 1-4-0-0 in their last five games, entering tonight’s game on a four game losing streak. Lost to the Kalamazoo Wings last night 6-3.

Player Transactions

Toledo Walleye:
A little over a week ago Toledo lost defenseman (D) Vili Saarijarvi, forwards (F) Zach Nastasiuk, Mike Borkowski, and Luke Esposito as they were all reassigned/recalled to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Tyler Barnes was loaned to the Cleveland Monsters on Dec. 9th, but was returned to Toledo from the loan the following day.

Atlanta Gladiators:
Over the past week the Gladiators have seen three additions and two deletions to their roster. Starting on Dec. 10th Stephen Pierog (F) was signed to a standard players contract (SPC), and the following day he was released from his SPC. On the 13th goaltender Dan Vladar was reassigned by the Bruins to Providence, Atlanta’s AHL affiliate. Two days later forward Phil Lane was  returned from his loan to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, and today Vladar was reassigned back to the Gladiators.

The Atlanta Gladiators are a middle of the pack team that has had trouble getting out of the gates in December, much in part due to roster fluctuations. After Nashville ended it’s affiliation with the Norfolk Admirals mid season they have begun to work with the Gladiators, which complemented the already established affiliation with the Boston Bruins. The unofficial dual affiliation is a double edged sword though, a lot of talented players are available to be sent down, but can just as soon be called up again. Right now they are in the players called up stage, which helps explain their poor performance as of late. Coincidentally, the Walleye have also felt the effects of changing lineups due to a nasty injury bug going around along with numerous call ups gutting the roster. Jenks remains out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, along with the Grand Rapids players having all been recalled except for Tansey, McCarron, Nagle and Machovsky.  The return of Simon Denis and Shane Berschbach has helped considerably though, and it showed last night as Denis went plus four and Berschbach scored a goal against Brampton last night. Should Toledo step on the ice as the same team that played last night, it should be a strong outing against a floundering Gladiators team. Statistically the Walleye outshine the Atlanta in every category except for Power Play efficiency, but Toledo’s first ranked Penalty Kill unit will take the challenge head on. Look for Toledo to show up for a strong performance in front  of their fans, as they attempt to win their second straight and get back into the hunt for top spot in the league.

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