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Published: Thursday, 10/6/2011

Walleye have talent in nets

Former San Jose Shark Hutton to team with McCollum

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo Walleye player Evan Rankin, 86, listens to head coach Nick Vitucci during practice, Wednesday, October 5, 2011. Toledo Walleye player Evan Rankin, 86, listens to head coach Nick Vitucci during practice, Wednesday, October 5, 2011.
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The Toledo Walleye will start the season with two young and talented goaltenders in net.

The team's 2011-12 roster is rounding into shape after a host of players were reassigned to the club yesterday.

The Walleye completed their sixth day of training camp yesterday and play two exhibition games this weekend.

Four players from Toledo's American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford were in camp at yesterday morning's practice, including goalie Carter Hutton.

Five more players are expected to join the Walleye today from the team's other AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. Thomas McCollum, the Detroit Red Wings' No. 1 draft choice in 2008, will start the season with Toledo. He was reassigned from Grand Rapids yesterday.

Hutton, 25, started 22 games last year with Worcester of the AHL. He posted a record of 11-7-2 with a 3.01 goals against average.

McCollum, 21, split last season between Grand Rapids and Toledo, appearing in 20 games with the Griffins and 23 with the Walleye. He posted a 6-12-2 record with a 3.33 GAA while in Grand Rapids and an 11-9-2 record and 2.76 GAA and three shutouts with Toledo.

"I'm really excited about the goaltending situation this year. Really excited," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. "Both guys have played pro hockey, and they have a couple years under their belt.

"[Hutton] is a heck of a goaltender. He spent the second half of last season in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks. He didn't get in any games. But he was there, and that says something about his ability."

Rockford also reassigned forwards David Gilbert and Paul Zanette and defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin to Toledo. All four players bring AHL experience to the Walleye.

Danis-Pepin has appeared in 61 AHL games and 46 more contests with the Walleye over the last two seasons. Simon has 22 points (4 G, 18 A) in two seasons with Toledo.

Gilbert has appeared in six games with Rockford the last two years with four points (2 G, 2 A).

Zanette played in seven games last year with Hamilton of the AHL. Zanette was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the best college player, his senior season at Niagara when he finished with 29 goals and 26 assists.

Along with McCollum, Grand Rapids assigned defensemen Gleason Fournier and Bryan Rufenach and forwards Andrej Nestrasil and Nick Oslund to Toledo.

Fournier and Nestrasil each spent the 2010-11 season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Fournier, 20, registered 44 points in 57 games for Rimouski, while Nestrasil, 20, notched 70 points in 58 games for Prince Edward Island.

Rufenach, 22, played in six games with Toledo last year, contributing a goal and an assist in six games. Oslund, 23, played the last four seasons at St. Cloud State. Last year he had four points in 30 games.

Toledo plays its first preseason game tomorrow night in Kalamazoo. The first and only preseason home game will be played at the Huntington Center on Saturday at 5 p.m. against Kalamazoo.

The event will include other activities called FinFest. Fans can shoot on goal, take photos, and meet players after the game. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. For more info, go to toledowalleye.com.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade



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