Walleye forward Mike Embach is a hockey player by trade but a trader in a unique currency in his downtime.
Embach, one of the newest additions to the Toledo roster, is a day trader in cryptocurrency. The still-emerging industry involves the transfer of funds digitally.
Embach, a 30-year-old veteran in his seventh season of pro hockey, said he became interested in cryptocurrency after finishing his master's degree in management and organization about a year and a half ago.
“I was looking for ways to do financial advising and I stumbled upon it,” Embach said. “It's a new emerging technology. I've been investing in it going on 18 months now. It's gaining traction.”
Bitcoin, a digital currency that utilizes encryption techniques to regulate the generation and transfer of units of funds, is the most well-known form of the new financial industry. The system operates independently of a central bank.
“I've read a lot of alternative, non-mainstream news,” Embach said. “It's a nice use of my time away from the game.”
The unique hobby matches the engaging personality of the personable and outgoing left winger. Although he joined the team midseason, the native of Orland Park, Ill., is a vocal presence in the locker room.
Embach had started this season playing overseas in Scotland. Walleye coach Dan Watson then signed him Jan. 28 after he returned to the United States hoping to play for a championship-caliber team.
“On the ice, he works very hard, plays an honest game, finishes his checks, and has the ability to play in all situations which makes him valuable,” Watson said. “Off the ice, he provides veteran leadership with his voice and experiences.”
Embach has made an immediate impact on the score sheet. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound forward has tallied 11 points with four goals and seven assists in 14 games.
He was the team's nominee for ECHL player of the month honors for February.
Embach had three goals and nine points in first eight games with Toledo. In his Walleye debut at Indy on Feb. 3, Embach tallied the game-winning goal and also had an assist.
“He leads by example with his on-ice work ethic,” Watson said. “It's one of those great mid-season acquisitions without having to lose a player.”
Embach's familiarity with several players on the roster made his midseason addition a smooth transition. He was teammates with current Walleye goalie Pat Nagle in Fort Wayne last year. Nagle and Embach also were roommates in college together at Ferris State University, where they also played with Toledo forward Kyle Bonis.
“Over in Scotland I was tracking the team,” Embach said. “I was watching how Nags was doing. I knew quite a bit about this organization and its culture and its mindset to win.”
Embach, who has played in 381 ECHL games over seven seasons, now has 298 total points in his career with 128 goals and 170 assists. Embach played four seasons for Fort Wayne, including the last three seasons with the Komets.
Toledo eliminated Embach and the Komets from the Kelly Cup playoffs last season and in 2015.
The rivals look to be on a postseason collision course once again, and the teams are battling it out for the Central Division title. Toledo (40-14-5) is four points ahead of Fort Wayne (39-15-4) in the division, though the Komets have two games in hand on the Walleye.
“There's a little added motivation,” Embach said. “I'd love to say there isn't. But the thing about playing against someone you are close with and competed with, there is that added incentive. You want to win.”
The Walleye have moved to the top of the overall ECHL standings and now have a very realistic goal of capturing the regular-season title once again. It would be the third time in the last four seasons that Toledo won the Brabham Cup for finishing with the most points.
“We control our own destiny,” Embach said. “As long as we win, it won't matter. We want to win the division. We want to be first in our conference. We want to be first in the league.”
Toledo needs to reach 89 points to clinch a spot in the playoffs. With 13 games left in the season, the Walleye currently have 85.
“The mindset is to get to 100 points,” Embach said.
He also said playing in front of sellout crowds every night is an anomaly in the ECHL. There have been 22 sellouts at the Huntington Center — a franchise record — with an average crowd of 7,543.
“That's hard to come by in this league. We cherish that,” Embach said. “It's a top-notch organization. It starts when you walk in the rink. The facility has every amenity. The staff is the best.”
The veteran winger also said he embraces the opportunity to be on a team with high hopes of claiming an elusive championship, especially with his former college roommate. Nagle is having a career year for the Walleye; the veteran netminder is leading the ECHL in wins while being named goalie of the month twice. Embach was the best man at Nagle's wedding.
“I make jokes with his wife that I know more about him than she does,” Embach said. “We're opposites. I've known him for 11 years. It's great to see him progress. He is so calm now in net. It’s easy to play in front of him.”
Embach said it would be a dream scenario to claim the Cup with his best friend.
“The mindset here is to win and play deep into the playoffs,” Embach said.
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