Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018
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Walleye

A must see: The new Hall of Fame section at the Huntington Center

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    Members of the Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame are honored in this display at the Huntington Center.

    THE BLADE/MARK MONROE
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  • SPT-Walleye31p-20

    Former Toledo Walleye player Jacob MacDonald levels Brampton Beast player Lucas Venuto in 2016.

    Blade/Andy Morrison

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    Fort Wayne's Shawn Szydlowski flashes a smile to the crowd after a fight against Toledo in 2016.

    Blade/Katie Rausch

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The new Hall of Fame area at the Huntington Center is terrific.

The section on the lower bowl concourse recognizes the 20 hockey titans that have been elected into the Toledo Hockey Hall of Fame. The area has sharp posters with the players' names and photos.

Plaques also are hung along the wall detailing the exploits of the players from yesteryear.

A bench area is included for fans to have their photos taken alongside the greats.

The exhibit is well done and an area where families of the hall of famers and fans of the Mercurys, Blades, Hornets, Goaldiggers, and Storm can reminisce.

It's a good start to recognizing this city's rich pro hockey tradition that coincides perfectly with the upcoming Toledo Hockey Heritage Weekend and ECHL All-Star Weekend festivities.

Hopefully, the permanent exhibit will eventually include a designated area to display other historical items. How about a framed Goaldiggers jersey?

Or what about glass cases filled with memorabilia, buttons, souvenirs, giveaway items, programs, and equipment? Plenty of cool old photos could also be included.

Speaking of honoring the legends of T-Town hockey, is it time yet for the Walleye to start retiring some numbers?

It can't just be me that thinks it's strange to see someone other than Evan Rankin wearing the Walleye No. 86. No offense to Greg Wolfe, who is an upper echelon player in his own right, but that number will always be associated with Rankin, the tenacious forward who became a fan favorite.

That goes for 17 as well, although I don't think former longtime captain Kyle Rogers minds that former NHLer T.J. Hensick is wearing his number these days. Others to consider? Defenseman Cody Lampl's No. 32 and the No. 1 worn by goalie Jeff Lerg.

ILLUSTRIOUS ALUM: Although he was not here nearly long enough to be considered a Toledo hall of famer, former Walleye defenseman Jacob MacDonald continues to make the franchise proud.

MacDonald, who played in Toledo for 30 games in 2016-17, was named the ECHL's Alumnus of the Month last week.

The 25-year-old scored his first NHL goal in his debut in “The Show” for the Florida Panthers on Oct. 6.

Walleye fans quickly recognized MacDonald's high ceiling when he made an instant impact here. MacDonald posted 26 points (7 G, 19 A) in 30 games and was selected to represent Toledo at the ECHL all-star game. Instead, MacDonald earned a call-up to Albany of the AHL, signed a contract there, and never returned to Toledo as he worked his way up to the NHL.

MacDonald played in two games for Florida before he was reassigned to Springfield of the AHL, where he has posted three goals and five assists in seven games and will surely get called back up soon. Last season, MacDonald led all AHL defensemen with 20 goals and 55 points in 75 games.

KOMET KOMEBACK: Forward Shawn Szydlowski, who was named MVP of the ECHL last season with Fort Wayne, has returned to the Komets after starting the season overseas.

Szydlowski finished as the ECHL's scoring leader last season when he produced 79 points (31 goals, 48 assists) in 64 games for the Komets.

Szydlowski started this season playing in Norway. He had appeared in 11 games with Frisk Asker, where he had posted seven points. He had been teammates in Norway with former Walleye forward Kyle Bonis.

Rumblings of a possible reunion began swirling when Szydlowski left Norway earlier this month.

Some even wildly speculated that he could possibly join the Walleye. Coach Dan Watson quickly squelched that rumor, saying there was “no chance” that Toledo would entertain the thought of signing him. For starters, each ECHL team is limited to having four veterans (those, other than a goaltender, who have played in at least 260 regular-season games of pro hockey) on their rosters. Toledo already has filled its allotment, and Watson wouldn't even begin to entertain the thought of losing A.J. Jenks, Shane Berschbach, T.J. Hensick, or Matt Register.

Berschbach, the franchise's all-time scoring leader, is off to another hot start with a team-high 13 points (seven goals, six assists). Hensick ranks second in scoring with a 4-8-12 line, and Jenks is third with nine points (five goals, four assists). Register, a three-time ECHL D-man of the year, is tops among the team's defensemen with eight points (one goal, seen assists).

The Komets, however, also faced the obstacle of the ECHL's veteran rule with Jamie Schaafsma, Cody Sol, Garret Ross, and Justin Hodgman already on the roster. The team subsequently traded Ross to make room for Szydlowski, who re-joined the Komets on Monday. Szydlowski is in his eighth season and has amassed 323 career points (131 goals, 192 assists).

By the way, Bonis has continued his consistently high offensive production as he has 14 points (8 goals, six assists) in 18 games for Frisk Asker.

WEEKLY RECOGNITION: Two Walleye players were named runner-up for the ECHL's weekly award.

Berschbach, who had six points in three games, was named runner-up for skater of the week. Goaltender Pat Nagle, who went 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .968 save percentage, was runner-up for goalie of the week.

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