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Published: Tuesday, 10/5/2010

Some big fish won't be Walleye

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Some major contributors to the Toledo Walleye's inaugural season will not be back with the organization this year.

Goaltender Alec Richards will spend the season with Rockford of the American Hockey League, according to Walleye coach Nick Vitucci. Richards had a 17-12-5 record with a 3.35 goals-against average for Toledo last year.

“He played great for us last year and his reward is to spend a year in the American Hockey League,” Vitucci said. “He has taken that next step and they want to see him prove himself at the AHL level. He's had a great training camp.”

The team's leading scorers, Maxime Tanguay and J.C. Sawyer, have signed with other ECHL teams. Tanguay, who led the team with 69 points (25 G, 44 A), will play for Elmira. Sawyer, who ranked second on the team (21 G, 38 A) and was ECHL defensemen of the year, has signed to play for North Division foe Cincinnati. the defending Kelly Cup champion.

“Last year, we had guys who were just driven for reasons outside of team success,” Vitucci said. “This year I wanted to make sure we had a better group of players, a better group of people. I like where we are at and the talent level is still there.”

Another top-scoring forward, Chris Robertson, has retired. He had 19 goals and 35 assists.

“We loved Chris Robertson. He was a good team person,” Vitucci said. “Those are the things that you deal with. You deal with players going to Europe or going up to the next level or retiring. And you have to fill in those holes.”

But forward Evan Rankin, who led Toledo in goals scored with 32, is expected to join the team today during the fifth day of the organization's training camp at the Huntington Center.

The roster sits at 23 players after the additions of defensemen Joe Charlebois and Nick Duff, and forward Robin Richards over the weekend.

Goaltender Frederic Ettedgui was released Monday.

Goalie Joe Palmer has been assigned from Rockford through the team's affiliation with the Chicago Blackhawks. The team also expects to receive a goaltender from its other NHL affiliate, the Detroit Red Wings. Most likely, one of the younger players in the system, Thomas McCollum or Jordan Pearce, will be sent to Toledo from Grand Rapids of the AHL.

“Someone is coming to us from Detroit,” Vitucci said. “They have five goalies in their system. We hope it works out for all of them, but someone will have to filter down barring injury.”

Pearce played in 37 games for the Walleye last year, posting a 15-16-2 record with a 3.63 GAA. McCollum suited up in four games for Toledo (2-1-0, 4.48 GAA).

The Walleye play three exhibition games this week. Toledo plays Wheeling in Johnstown tomorrow at 7 and then the Walleye play at Kalamazoo on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The team's only home preseason game will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Kalamazoo. Some tickets for opening night, which is Oct. 16 against Wheeling, are available and are priced at $16. For more info call 419-725-WALL.

The players and coaches will all be in attendance at the Toledo Walleye Coaches Show tonight at 6 p.m. at PizzaPapalis, which is located at the corner of Monroe and Huron streets in downtown Toledo.

Contact Mark Monroe at:mmonroe@theblade.com or 419-724-6354.



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