The title of this post isn’t really so much a commentary on the Walleye’s play last week, but rather the very sparse scheduling. The Walleye played a single game last Saturday, and are actually playing one tonight, which I’ll recap next week. Because by the time that game is over and the Hawks are done in Calgary, it’ll be Thursday and we can’t have that.
So before I get into the lone game recap, a couple quick bits of news to discuss. The first is the signing of former Rockford IceHogs netminder Hannu Toivonen this week. Hannu does have NHL experience, having played in 61 games for the Bruins and Blues from 2005-08. You may remember him with the IceHogs from 2010-11, where he played in 55 games and amassed a 22-20-4 record. Last season he suited up for 11 games with the Orlando Solar Bears with a 2-7-0 record, .888 SV% and 3.93 GAA. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t played in any league thus far this hockey season.
His signing signals a couple of things. First, this probably means Mac Carruth will be up in Rockford for several additional weeks at least. This would indicate that Nikolai Khabibulin‘s groin injury is pretty serious and/or depending on how Antti Raanta performs as Corey Crawford‘s backup, Khabi could be released or waived once he returns from injury.
The second is that obviously Toledo did not want to go several weeks with only Detroit prospect Jared Coreau and his middling numbers (1-3-2-0, .872 SV%, 4.27 GAA) as the primary goaltender. This is Coreau’s first professional season, and at only 22, he will get many chances in net with Toledo. But the pressure may be on Walleye management, as they are currently out of playoff position, and they obviously want to right the ship before the locals get increasingly restless – because according to the fans on Facebook, everyone sucks and they should all be fired. Or something.
So with Toivonen as presumably a backup, this gives the Walleye a veteran who can hopefully help Coreau with his development, and pick up a start here and there when needed. Because going into a long stretch with only a struggling rookie and an EBUG between the pipes would quite possibly have doomed this season.
Oh and maybe we’ll get to see a repeat of this in Toledo:
The second bit of news is a new ECHL franchise will be joining the league next season: the Indianapolis Fuel. It hasn’t been officially announced, but it is assumed the Fuel will join the North Division, joining fellow Indiana teams the Fort Wayne Komets and Evansville IceMen. This would mean another divisional realignment would have to take place, as the Atlantic Division is down to three teams, and the North already has five teams, not counting the Fuel. Geographically, Toledo is the team that is most easterly out of the six, but the league may not want to break up the in-state rivalry between the Walleye and Cincinnati Cyclones. That would leave the Kalamazoo Wings as a possibility to join the Atlantic, but they are geographically in-between the Indiana and Ohio teams. Whatever the ECHL ultimately decides, here’s hoping the new kid in the Atlantic is scheduled a good amount of games against North Division opponents. The games between the Walleye, Cyclones and Wings are always competitive and have an edge, and it would be sad to see them be drastically reduced.
One other item to think about regarding the Fuel expansion – the Blackhawks’ affiliation contract with the Walleye is over after this season. Longtime Hawks fans will remember their minor league affiliation was with the Indianapolis Ice of the old IHL in the 80s and 90s. It would not be unexpected if the Hawks become the Fuel’s parent team. It would eliminate the awkward marriage between the Blackhawks and Red Wings when it comes to sharing an ECHL affiliate at least.
I guess I should write about that ONE GAME now.
Toledo Walleye 6, Evansville IceMen 2
The Walleye played in only their sixth game thus far at home last Saturday. Jared Coreau was in net for Toledo, opposed by Evansville’s Mike Clemente. While the Walleye held a 13-11 edge in shots through the first twenty minutes, the IceMen would tally the only goal of the period. Josh Beaulieu put a rebound past Coreau at 13:43.
All of the offense that has been missing from Toledo as of late finally exploded at once in the second period. Even strength goals from CJ Chartrain, (4:40), Joe Sova (7:20), Kevin Lynch (10:42) and Trevor Parkes (11:09) would give the Walleye a 4-2 lead heading into the third period. There was an IceMen goal sandwiched in the middle there, but whatever.
The Walleye continued to pour it on in the third, with two additional goals by Louis-Marc Aubrey, a recent arrival from Grand Rapids, at 8:48 and Parkes’ second of the evening at 9:30. The 6-2 win would give Coreau his first professional win in six attempts. The IceMen actually outshot the Walleye for the game, 44-35.
Blackhawks Prospects Update: Before his callup, Mac Carruth was 4-3-0-0, with a 2.50 GAA & .927 SV%…David Gilbert has 1 assist and is a -3 with 10 shots on goal – he was retroactively put on the 21-day IR as of 11/13…Joe Gleason has 1 goal and 2 assists in three games with the Walleye
The Week Ahead: The Walleye play the South Carolina Stingrays at home tonight, and have a rematch at the Huntington Center with the Stingrays on Friday, November 29th. The Walleye take on the Wheeling Nailers on the road on Saturday, November 30th.
Current Standings: North Division – 1) Cincinnati Cyclones, 20 points (15 GP), 2) Evansville Icemen, 19 points (14 GP), 3) Fort Wayne Komets, 15 points (14 GP), 4) Kalamazoo Wings, 13 points (12 GP), 5) Toledo Walleye, 12 points (13 GP)
Stats-O-Rama: Trevor Parkes leads the team with 10 goals (3rd in the ECHL) and 17 points…Travis Novak leads the team with 8 assists…Parkes leads the Walleye with a +6…Mac Carruth leads the team with a 4-3-0-0 record with a 2.50 GAA & .927 SV%…Emerson Clark has 58 PIMs, good for fifth in the ECHL…Scott Arnold is second in the league with 4 power-play goals…The Walleye are 4th in the league on the power play (20%) and 10th on the penalty kill (86%)