Three Walleye sent to AHL teams for playoff push


The Toledo Walleye's playoff chances took yet another blow Tuesday after goalie Thomas McCollum was sent to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.

McCollum had been called up to Detroit on Monday to serve as the backup goalie for the Red Wings in their game against Chicago. It was expected that McCollum would be sent back to Toledo after Detroit's No. 1 netminder, Jimmy Howard, came back from injured reserve Tuesday.

But McCollum instead was sent to Grand Rapids to help the Griffins attempt to qualify for the AHL playoffs. McCollum joins goalie Jordan Pearce, who had started this season in Toledo. Pearce has started 20 straight games for Grand Rapids, which is three points out of a playoff spot with six games left.

The Walleye are four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the ECHL Eastern Conference with just three games left in the regular season. Toledo must win at least two of the three games and also get help from teams that are playing Elmira and Cincinnati, which the Walleye are chasing.

McCollum had started 14 straight games for the Walleye. He had an 11-9-2 record with a 2.76 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. McCollum has two shutouts in the last four games, and three overall this season in Toledo. He also had a solid 2.55 goals against average and a .916 save percentage this month.

McCollum became the first Walleye player ever called up to the NHL when he initially suited up for the Red Wings on Jan. 15.

The goaltending duties will now be turned over to Joe Palmer, who has played in 25 games this season. Palmer has a 9-12-1 record with a 4.23 goals against average and .864 save percentage.

Palmer, who played three seasons at Ohio State University, is in his second year as a pro. Palmer's last start was on Feb. 20.

Two other players, forwards Mike Hedden and Andy Bohmbach, also were called up to the AHL Tuesday. Both are expected to return to Toledo from Rockford for this weekend's games.

The Walleye play Thursday at Wheeling. The team's regular season home finale is on Friday against Elmira at 7 p.m. The last game is in Wheeling on Saturday.