Right wing Keefe is vital to Walleye’s successful seasonWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | email@example.com
If you read Toledo Walleye right winger Adam Keefe’s stat line for last season, not too many numbers would jump out.
In his defense, Keefe’s season didn’t start until the middle of February, but the short time span still allowed the 26-year-old to gain the reputation as an enforcer on a ice for the Walleye.
“I like to be physical out there,” Keefe said. “You have to fight, scratch and claw every single night out there, because everyone is fighting for a job. I try not to back down from anyone out there.”
Perhaps best defined as a journeyman, Keefe has played for three teams in the American Hockey League (AHL). He also played for the Toledo Storm during the 2005-2006 season. No matter where he has been, it is Keefe’s physical brand of hockey that has stood out.
In just 24 games last season, the Brampton, Ontario, native garnered 107 penalty minutes, which put him at greater than 1,000 cumulative penalty minutes for his career. But Keefe’s addition late in the season last year was just what the Walleye needed.
Due to several promotions to the Walleye’s respective AHL teams, the new franchise severely was left depleted. It was Keefe’s enthusiasm and energy though that helped spark the team into the ECHL playoffs in the team’s first year of existence.
“I really didn’t know what to expect when I came in here,” he said. “I think the organization was happy to make it to the playoffs being the first season, but we weren’t happy because we wanted to win the playoffs.”
Keefe responded in the playoffs for the team. He recorded his first hat trick of his career against the Charlotte Checkers on April 6 of last season, and his great play was one of the reasons the Walleye re-signed him after the completion of last season.
Head coach Nick Vitucci said that despite Keefe’s short season last year, his play stood out to the organization.
“Adam is a heart and soul kind of player,” Vitucci said. “He has a great work ethic, and to me, he is the best kind of player to have.”
Keefe is one the few guarantees when it comes to personnel on the roster. With so much unknown about the final makeup of this team, the winger has been counted on as a leader to set the tone in the locker room.
“To me, it is about winning a championship,” Keefe said. “We need to take that next step as a team.”
Vitucci said that Keefe’s focus and determination have been the reason he is considered a core leader for the Walleye.
“These guys know that Adam is going to give them everything he has out on the ice on a daily basis,” he said. “He is one of our core guys on this team, and I think it is great that the whole core is focused on winning a championship season. Those guys make it really easy to follow them.”
Keefe is not just popular in the Walleye locker room either. His physical brand of hockey has made him a favorite among fans.
“The fan atmosphere here in Toledo is second to none,” Keefe said. “We always get excited to come out and play in front of these great fans, and it is really something that makes coming into our building intimidating when you have 8,000-plus fans here ready to cheer us on.”
With the season rapidly approaching, Keefe is ready to get back in action.
“I am excited to get going again,” he said. “I really have worked hard in the offseason, and I am looking forward to this season.”
For Keefe and the Walleye, this season is also about bringing another championship back to the Glass City.
“We are a talented team, and in my opinion, the sky is the limit. We have the guys here, and if we play our hockey, nobody can stop us.”