Fish Tales Blog

Eastern Conference Finals Preview

The Toledo Walleye are in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history! They will face the South Carolina Stingrays in a best of seven series that gets underway Friday night at the Huntington Center.

Eastern Conference Finals Schedule:

  • South Carolina @ Toledo -- Friday, May 15 - 7:35 p.m.
  • South Carolina @ Toledo -- Saturday, May 16 - 8:05 p.m.
  • Toledo @ South Carolina - Wednesday, May 20 - 7 p.m.
  • Toledo @ South Carolina - Friday, May 22 - 7 p.m.
  • Toledo @ South Carolina - Saturday, May 23 -- 7 p.m.*
  • South Carolina @ Toledo - Tuesday, May 26 - 7:35 p.m.*
  • South Carolina @ Toledo - Wednesday, May 27 - 7:35 p.m.*

*If necessary

For the First Time: This series marks the first time that Toledo and South Carolina meet in the ECHL playoffs. The last time a Toledo team made it to the conference finals was in 2006 when the Storm were ousted by Gwinnett four games to one. South Carolina hasn't been this far along in the postseason since 2009 when they won the Kelly Cup.

Walleye Road to Conference Finals: Toledo defeated Wheeling 4-3 to advance to the North Division Finals. Kyle Bonis scored twice including the overtime game-winner to lift the Walleye to a 2-1 Game Seven victory. The Walleye won all four home games in the North Division Finals to beat out Fort Wayne 4-3. Shane Berschbach had at least one point in all seven games of the series vs. the Komets and 11 points (3G, 8A) total.

Stingrays Road to the Conference Finals: South Carolina outlasted Reading four games to three in the first round. The Stingrays scored three times in the third period to erase a 2-0 Royals lead in Game Seven to advance. In the East Division Finals, South Carolina won three times in Florida to beat the Everblades 4-2. Goaltender Jeff Jakaitis held Florida to three goals or less in five of the six games.

Defensive Wins Championships: This match up features the top two defensive teams from the regular season. South Carolina led the league allowing just 2.26 goals against per game while Toledo was second at 2.53. The Stingrays allowed a total of 163 goals and the Walleye 182. In the playoffs, Toledo ranks third allowing 2.29 goals against per game while the Stingrays sit at 2.92 per contest (8th).

Out in Front: Shane Berschbach leads all scorers in the playoffs with a total of 19 points (6G, 13A). He is one point ahead of South Carolina's Wayne Simpson (6G, 12A).

Looking Back on the Regular Season Meetings: Toledo had a record of 3-1-0 in the four meetings this regular season against South Carolina. The road team dominated by winning all four contests. The Walleye held a scoring advantage of 18-13 in the season series and the power play led the way going 6-12 (50.0%). The Stingrays out shot Toledo 141-118 during the four meetings.

  • November 4, 2014 in South Carolina: Toledo picked up its first ever win in South Carolina with a 4-3 shootout win. Goaltender Jared Coreau stopped 35 of 38 shots and went four for four in shootout saves to secure the Walleye win. Kyle Bonis had a goal during the game and then picked out the shootout game-winner.
  • January 16, 2015 at South Carolina: Toledo picked up a 4-3 win with goals by Shane Berschbach, Kyle Bonis, Justin Mercier and Josh Holmstrom. Jeff Lerg picked up the win with 30 saves. This was only game in the season series that the Walleye did not have a power play goal (0-3).
  • January 18, 2015 at South Carolina: The Walleye raced out to a 4-0 lead halfway through the game and finished off a dominating 7-2 win. Justin Mercier (2G, 1A) and Troy Schwab (3A) each had three points in the game and nine Walleye players had at least a point in the game. 
  • March 27, 2015 at Toledo: The Stingrays scored four times in the third period to beat the Walleye 5-3. Toledo was 2-3 on the power play but goaltender Jeff Jakaitis turned aside 31 of the 34 shots he faced. Derek DeBlois scored twice and had an assist to pace the Stingrays.

Leading the Way: Kyle Bonis led the Walleye with three goals and three assists against the Stingrays during the regular season, while Justin Mercier posted five points (3G, 2A). Josh Holmstrom also scored three times with Shane Berschbach and Troy Schwab each having three assists. Derek DeBlois had four points (2G, 2A) and Caleb Herbert (3G) led the Stingrays vs. the Walleye.

Two Top Goaltenders: This series features two of the best goaltenders in the ECHL. South Carolina's Jeff Jakaitis was the ECHL Goaltender of the Year as well as Player of the Year. He led the league with a 1.96 goals against average during the regular season. Jeff Lerg finished second in the voting for Goaltender of the Year and was 4th in goals against average at 2.37. Lerg posted 32 wins in the regular season while Jakaitis finished with 26.

Cunning Coaches: Derek Lalonde of the Walleye took home Coach of the Year honors for 2014-15. South Carolina head coach Spencer Carbery finished second in the Coach of the Year voting.