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Toledo Walleye

Toledo Walleye Logo

The Toledo Walleye are a professional ice hockey team based in Toledo, Ohio. The Walleye are members of the North Division of the American Conference of the ECHL. The Walleye will play their home games in downtown Toledo at Lucas County Arena, which will open in 2009. The team will be affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League and the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League starting with the 2009-10 season.

Official Toledo Walleye Website: http://www.toledowalleye.com/

Franchise History Edit

Toledo Storm Edit

The Walleye were originally founded as the Toledo Storm in 1991, playing their home games at Toledo Sports Arena across the river from downtown Toledo. The Storm were the first hockey team to play in Toledo, since the International Hockey League's Toledo Goaldiggers ceased operations in 1986, eventually moving to Kansas City in 1990. In the Storm's inaugural season, the team won the West Division title and the Henry Brabham Cup after posting the league's best record in the regular season. The following year the Storm would win their first Jack Riley Cup, defeating the Wheeling Thunderbirds in six games. The Storm would come back the following season and win their second Riley Cup, defeating the Raleigh Icecaps in five games, becoming only the second team in league history to win back-to-back league titles (the first being the Hampton Roads Admirals in 1991 and 1992.). The Storm were dominant in their first few years, winning four division titles in their first five seasons and posting a winning record in thirteen of the sixteen seasons the team played. The Storm would win their second Brabham Cup in 2003 and would make the American Conference finals during the 2005-06 season, ultimately losing to the Gwinnett Gladiators in five games. The Storm's final game came on April 19, 2007 during the 2007 North Division semifinals losing to in-state rival, Cincinnati Cyclones, 4–0 losing the series 3 games to 0. In their sixteen seasons in the ECHL, the Storm posted a 610-395-103 record, winning two Riley Cups, two Brabham Cups and six division titles.

Sale to Toledo Arena Sports Edit

In 2007, the Toledo Storm were bought by Toledo Arena Sports, Inc., a subsidiary of the Toledo Mud Hens minor league baseball club that was planning to build a new state-of-the-art arena in downtown Toledo to replace the aging Sports Arena. Shortly after the sale, Toledo Arena Sports announced that after the 2006-07 season, the Storm would not compete again until the arena was completed and the ECHL granted the Storm a two year voluntary suspension from competition.

In February 2008, General Manager Joe Napoli announced that former Storm goaltender, ECHL Hall of Famer and head coach from 2003-2007 Nick Vitucci would return to coach the team when it returned to the ice in 2009. One week after announcing Vitucci as head coach, the club revealed that the team's new name would be the "Walleye," in reference to the popular game fish that is abundant in the area.

Inaugural Season Edit

At the ECHL Mid-Season Board of Governors meeting, the league announced that the Walleye would be members of the American Conference's North Division along with the Cincinnati Cyclones, Elmira Jackals, Johnstown Chiefs, Wheeling Nailers and Kalamazoo Wings. During the NHL's award ceremonies in Las Vegas, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland stated that the Walleye would become Detroit's ECHL affiliate for the 2009-10 season and that the Wings would send one of their three goaltender prospects (either Jordan Pearce, Thomas McCollum or Daniel Larsson) to Toledo for the season. On June 21, 2009, the Walleye announced the schedule for their inaugural season which opens on October 16 as the Walleye host the defending Brabham Cup champion Florida Everblades in the first of a three game series. The Walleye will play fifteen of their first twenty-one games at home.

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