Walleye, Wings revise rosters in preparation for season openerWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The teams playing inside the Huntington Center for the Walleye season opener Oct. 13 will look familiar, but the players will be different.
With changes made to both rosters throughout the week, the Toledo Walleye and Kalamazoo Wings teams will not be the same teams that met during exhibition games Oct. 5-6.
After introducing the team during a Media Day on Oct. 10, Walleye Head coach Nick Vitucci said about 70 percent of both rosters had changed since the exhibition games.
The Walleye added goalie Petr Mrazek and forwards Luke Glendening, Willie Coetzee and Andrej Nestrasil from the Grand Rapids Griffins.
In addition, the Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, sent goalie Kent Simpson and forwards Terry Broadhurst and Byron Forese to Toledo.
The rest of the team will add some stability and allow younger players to be built around this older core, Vitucci said.
“We know if [older players are] not called up or hopefully not injured, that they’re going to be here,” he said. “We feel if we have a core that is going to stay intact, then we can certainly get a lot more accomplished.”
Walleye captain and right-winger Kyle Rogers said helping newer players adjust to the system of play is crucial to building chemistry on the ice.
“It’s a matter of getting guys to gel together and buy into the systems the coaches are giving us,” Rogers said “The [defensive] zone, the power play, whatever it is, getting these guys to buy into the system and know that you have another layer behind you and knowing that if you do mess up, you’ve got two other guys that are behind you backing you up. It’s a matter of getting confidence and gelling together.”
Helping the new players feel comfortable will also help the team come together faster, said left-winger Randy Rowe.
“You can’t come to the arena for two hours or three hours a day and expect to get to know someone,” he said. “We’re all here for one reason. We want to win and guys want to get to the next level and you can’t do that by yourself. You need five other guys you’re out there on the ice with or 20 other teammates.”
Rowe, who scored 41 points for the Trenton Titans last season and 49 points for the Walleye in 2010-11, said better chemistry begins off the ice.
“It’s one of those things where you get them to feel comfortable around everybody and [the faster] we all feel comfortable around each other, the faster we’re going to gel,” Rowe said. “The past few days we’ve all been hanging out quite a bit and doing a lot of team things. Every meal is together and we’re all starting to get to know each other and have some fun.”
The Walleye won their first exhibition game 5-4 in overtime in Kalamazoo on Oct. 5, but fell 3-2 the next night at the Huntington Center.
“Those games really didn’t accomplish much more than an introduction to our system and what we want to do, but the teams are going to have new personnel with both hockey clubs,” Vitucci said.
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