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Published: 7/27/2009

Toledo hockey team puts spotlight on 'Spike'

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

He may be a fish out of water, but the ice suits him just fine.

"Spike" the yellow walleye will be unveiled today as the mascot for Toledo's new hockey team that begins play in October. The costumed mascot with the mischievous gap-toothed grin will greet the public for the first time at the Mud Hens game at noon at Fifth Third Field.

"Spike is our most enthusiastic fan," said Scott Jeffer, assistant general manager and director of marketing for the Walleye. "He's our head cheerleader."

The yellow walleye will wear an oversized version of the team's jersey and will don a hockey helmet. Spike's home is "The Fish Pond" at the new Lucas County Arena downtown.

"Spike is the main guy," said Jason Griffin, director of public and media relations for the Walleye. "He's the No. 1 supporter of the Walleye."

The costume was designed by Raymond Entertainment Group, based in Delaware. The group also designed Toledo's two other sports mascots, Muddy and Muddona.

"We had a number of conference calls and we even talked about doing another character other than a fish," Mr. Jeffer said. "But Spike is like a walking logo."

According to his official team bio, Spike was born in the Maumee River and loves playing hockey, writing poetry, and reading. He also has a penchant for wild dance moves, which should come in handy when he urges fans to cheer on his hockey team.

Spike's favorite food is worms and he loves the movies Finding Nemo and The Mighty Ducks. He'll make his debut today in the top of the third inning.

Spike joins the team's "live" mascot, Wally the Walleye. The sporting fish is housed at the Lake Erie Exhibit in the Toledo Zoo's Aquarium.

Both nicknames were selected from a pool of more than 4,000 suggestions submitted through the team's "Name the Mascot" contest in conjunction with The Blade and The Andersons in February, 2008.

Mr. Jeffer said Spike was one of the top three names. Wally was No. 1. He said groups of local elementary schoolchildren then served as a "testing ground" for the name's appeal.

"Spike was a runaway winner," Mr. Jeffer said. "The other most popular names were Gilly and Finny. It was entertaining."

Mr. Jeffer said Spike will appear at just about every Mud Hens home game for the remainder of the baseball season.

He'll then mingle with the crowd when the Walleye opens its inaugural season at home on Friday, Oct. 16. The team's ECHL opener is against the Florida Everblades.

Aside from pumping up and interacting with the crowd at Walleye games, Spike will make appearances around town, turning up at businesses, parades, festivals, and parties.

"He will be doing all the things that Muddy does," Mr. Griffin said. "He'll be going to schools and hospitals."

Mr. Griffin also promised that Spike eventually will be joined by other characters, including a mascot for the organization's arena football team, the Bullfrogs.

"He will have friends," Mr. Griffin said.

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com

or 419-304-4760.



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