Storm head coach Claude Noel was recognized yesterday by his peers when he was selected to serve as co-coach of the Northern Conference team in the East Coast Hockey League All-Star Game on Jan. 21 in Estero, Fla.
Noel, whose Toledo squad has the best winning percentage in the ECHL at .720, will be joined behind the bench by Atlantic City's Mike Haviland.
“It's a great honor to be picked by the other coaches in the league,” Noel said yesterday. “But there's a lot of people responsible for this. [Storm vice president and general manager] Mike Miller has a supportive management style, [assistant coach] Mark Bernard helped get the players, and then the players. There's more than just me involved here.”
Noel was hired this summer to take over a Storm team that failed to qualify for post-season play twice in the last three years. A former Toledo Goaldigger who captained the 1982-83 edition of that team to the International Hockey League's Turner Cup championship, Noel has been an assistant or head coach in four leagues since retiring as a player in 1988.
Under Noel's direction, the Storm is 17-6-2 and in first place in the Northwest Division.
“I was fortunate to come into a situation that needed changes,” Noel said. “I was fortunate to get quality players to work with and I was fortunate to get this opportunity.''
The ECHL will release its Northern Conference all-star team later today.
While accepting congratulations, Noel was also busy making a couple of player moves yesterday. Toledo shipped forward David Del Monte to Wheeling in exchange for left winger Kris Waltze.
Del Monte had one goal in six games for the Storm after being signed when he was released by Lexington. Waltze, 6-0, 210 pounds, had a goal and an assist, along with 77 penalty minutes in 20 games with Reading this season before he was released and claimed by Wheeling, which then shipped him to Toledo.
Beginning his fifth pro season, Waltze has totaled 1,098 PIM's in his career.
The Storm also traded defenseman Chad Wilchynski to Charlotte for future considerations. In his second year with the Storm, Wilchynski had four assists in eight games before suffering a knee injury Oct. 27.
The futures will consist of a player to be named before March 1 or cash.