Just seven games into the season, Walleye rookie Kevin Lynch sees great potential for his first pro hockey team and the young forward has already shown plenty of promise himself.
Lynch, a 22-year-old from Grosse Pointe, Mich., has charged out of the gate for the Toledo Walleye. Lynch ranks third on the team in points with five with three goals and two assists.
He is tied for sixth among all ECHL rookies in points.
“I'm happy with my start,” Lynch said. “I try to do anything to help my team out anyway I can. I like to create opportunities for my linemates.”
Toledo is off to a 3-3-1 start and sits in third place in the North Division.
“I have high hopes for this team,” Lynch said. “Early on we see the offensive upside.”
The Walleye are scoring 2.71 goals per game, but also are giving up 2.71 goals per game.
“We're working on eliminating chances in our D zone and we want to play more physical,” Lynch said. “I know we can score. We just need to put it all together.”
Lynch wrapped up a four-year career at the University of Michigan last season. He skated in 168 games for the Wolverines, tallying 72 points (35 goals, 37 assists) with 158 penalty minutes. Last season, Lynch had 27 points (10 G, 17 A) in 40 games while serving as an alternate captain.
The 6-foot-1 and 205-pound forward said he tries to use his size to his advantage.
“I like playing physical and I like making offensive plays when they happen,” Lynch said. “I'm a team guy.”
Walleye goalie Mac Carruth, who has started five of the team's seven games, said Lynch appears to have a scorers' touch.
“We've only played a few games but he's been the guy we've looked to for key goals,” Carruth said after Lynch scored the game-winner in the home opener.
Carruth (3-2-0), who has a 2.18 goals-against average, started his third straight game as the Walleye completed a hectic stretch on Sunday. Toledo played four games in five days, and posted a 1-3-0 record, earning two out of a possible eight points
“I don't think it's endurance or physicality,” Lynch said. “We just made a lot of mental mistakes and those are things we can fix. Those are the best kind. We know what we need to fix. We've watched game film and we just need to go out and execute.”
Toledo embarks on a three-game road trip down south to play against Florida on Saturday and two games against Orlando on Sunday and Monday.
“I think we're starting to figure out who we are and we'll start rolling down there,” Lynch said. “Both teams have good records, so it will be good competition.”
Lynch knows about good competition. He helped lead Michigan to the NCAA Frozen Four title game as a sophomore in 2010-11.
“I could not have picked a better university,” Lynch said. “Playing for [coach Red Berenson] was pretty special. He gave me an opportunity to come in and play as a freshman. He molds you into a hockey player and into a great person. He really stressed the student athlete.”
Lynch said he has gotten advice from his former Michigan teammate Luke Glendening, who started his pro career in Toledo last season and has played in six games with the Detroit Red Wings this season.
“We're both from Michigan and he came down here last year,” Lynch said. “I'm not surprised with what he's been able to accomplish. He just told me to work hard and be dedicated and do all the little things. That will get you moving up the ladder and make you successful.”
Lynch, who was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009, signed a one-year contract with Detroit in September.
“I grew up watching the Red Wings. It's a first-class organization,” he said.
He said many family members come to watch him play at the Huntington Center.
“The fans here have been great and I see good things coming,” Lynch said.
TEAM TRANSACTIONS: Goalie Jared Coreau, who started his pro career this season with the Walleye, was called up to Detroit on Tuesday. Coreau, 22, played in two games for the Toledo (0-1-1 record and a 3.49 GAA) before being called up to Grand Rapids. Coreau switched spots with another former Walleye goalie, Petr Mrazek, and will back up Detroit starter Jimmy Howard.
Defenseman Richard Nedomlel has been called up to Grand Rapids and forard Martin Frk has been assigned to Toledo. Frk, Detroit’s second round draft pick in 2012 and native of the Czech Republic, played in six games this year with Grand Rapids with no points.
Nedomlel appeared in four games in Toledo, scoring his first professional goal last Wednesday against Cincinnati.