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Biding time sitting in the penalty box is no problem for Walleye defenseman Cody Lampl, who has endured 60 hours of getting poked and prodded with a needle in a tattoo parlor chair.
Lampl, a fourth-year pro, is perhaps the most heavily tattooed player in the ECHL. Both arms are sleeved with ink, and he also has large pieces that span his chest, stomach, and back.
“I've just always liked them,” said Lampl, who ranks second on the team in penalty minutes with 53. “I've been a fan of tattoos since I was real young. I got my first one when I was 16 and it really hasn't stopped since. I'm up to 60 hours in the chair.”
Only one tattoo is visible on his neck while wearing his Walleye uniform.
“I get a lot of positive feedback and the other feedback I just don't want to hear it,” the easy-going defenseman said with a chuckle.
The passion for tattoos stretches to his childhood days in Idaho when his brothers and sisters started getting tattoos. The themes of the art vary. Some celebrate his love of punk rock music, others are tributes to his family and heritage. He also has a Pittsburgh Steelers logo and the word “Appreciate” that sprawls from shoulder to shoulder.
“It's just a word that always has been important to me,” the 26-year-old Lampl said. “I have one great artist that I trust that has done all of them.”
Lately, Lampl has received as much recognition for his appearance in a Walleye Christmas video as his tattoos. In the “White Christmas” lampoon, Lampl yucks it up in the locker room with a solo during the song. The heavily-bearded defenseman lip syncs into a his stick as if it's a microphone.
“I decided to use it as a prop,” Lampl said. “I love karaoke. I wanted to give the thing some presence. I decided to do the best I could with it. The guys had a lot of fun with it. It's funny to see the big guys dancing.
“The feedback from the fans has been phenomenal. I've even had fans from other teams say they wish their team had done one.”
On the ice, the season is nearing its midpoint and Lampl said the team is playing well.
The Walleye are in second place in the ECHL North Division.
“I like where we are at so far,” Lampl said. “The games that we've lost we haven't been dominated or gotten outplayed for many minutes at a time. It's just one or two mental mistakes, and it's something we can clean up.”
Toledo is in the midst of a stretch in the schedule that includes many divisional games. The Walleye play at Kalamazoo on Friday night before hosting Orlando on Saturday and Kalamazoo again on Sunday.
“Anytime you play a division game it can be a four-point swing,” Lampl said. “So you want to win those division games. We have to put our foot down and dig deeper.”
Lampl played four seasons at Colorado College before turning pro at the tail end of the 2008-09 season.
In his first full pro season, he helped lead the Idaho Steelheads to the ECHL finals.
Lampl said this Walleye club is similar to that team.
“Our forwards are a lot like that team. When they are going, there are no other defensemen that can keep up with them,” Lampl said. “And then our D corps is very solid, and we compete every night. We have depth, and we don't rely on one specific line. And we have two really solid goalies.”
Lampl describes himself as a “puck mover” with a physical edge. He has 248 penalty minutes in 184 games as a pro.
“I try to get the puck into the forwards' hands as quickly as possible,” Lampl said. “I think I bring a compete level every shift. For me hitting is like a job. I try to be the most physical player every shift.”
Lampl said he has battled through injuries throughout his pro career. He has had a broken wrist, went through an operation on his shoulder, and had double elbow surgery last summer.
“So far it's been working out this year,” said Lampl, who has a goal and three assists in 32 games.
Lampl and his wife, Ellie, are expecting their first child in the coming week.
“We're really excited about it,” Lampl said. “It has refocused me. I'm playing for diapers now.”
He said he has learned to cope with being away from his Idaho home during the holidays.“It was a little different right out of college,” he said. “But my wife is here and we've adjusted. The guys are my family too. We all live next to each other and some of the guys couldn't go home for Christmas. We had a nice pot luck dinner. We really enjoy each other’s company.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354, or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.