TOLEDO, OH – Even with the Walleye having had an outstanding record of 47-20-5 record in the 2015-16 campaign and were first in the eastern conference, the Walleye biggest test last year was the Kalamazoo Wings. Toledo only had a 4-5 record against them with two of the those wins being one goal games. Following the Walleye’s busy off-season which included losing icon and main goalie Jeff Lerg going to Denmark and head coach Derek Lalonde leaving to go AHL’s Iowa Wild, the Walleye faced the Wings in their preseason opener to the 2016-2017 season.
With Toledo’s goalie situation up in the air and Toledo’s backup Jake Paterson with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Toledo turned to goalie Drew Fielding, who played thirty-games combined between the Adirondack Thunder and the Brampton Beast last year. After a slow first period for both teams, Toledo got into sync with forward Kyle Bonis scoring at 10:46 of the second period on the first shot Kalamazoo backup David Desander saw after ECHL veteran Joel Martin started the game. Near the end of the first period, Kalamazoo defense had a breakup and forward Austin Wuthrich was able to blow past everyone scoring making 2-0 Toledo.
Toledo worked quickly to get on the board in the third with Evan Rankin scoring thirty-eight seconds in on a goal tipped in by former Walleye defenseman Dajon Mingo. Toledo ended the night by newcomer Andy Huff scoring with three minutes left in the third making it 4-0 Toledo. Also, in the third period defenseman Mike Leone took a hit against the boards and left unwilling to walk under his own power.
Based on every newcomer, the biggest impression that came out of Friday night for Toledo was forward Paxton Leroux. Leroux, who had 176 penalty minutes with Wichita last season, had two fights in third period after taking a somewhat dirty from the Kalamazoo’s Blake Hietala.
Saturday night’s tilt was a goaltending clinic for much of the contest, as Jake Paterson and Joel Martin battled to a scoreless draw late in the third period. Alex Globke beat Martin with a wrister from the slot to give the Walleye the game’s only goal and a second straight preseason win over the Wings.
As we should know, we shouldn’t expect a lot of the guys from the weekend games to be around during the regular season team, especially with the addition of main guys such as forward A.J. Jenks, Dane Walters and Zach Nastasiuk, who are rejoining the team after taking part in Grand Rapids Griffins camp.