Toledo Walleye player Alden Hirschfeld (23) leads the attack against the Ft. Wayne Komets. BLADE
Former Northview High School standout forward Alden Hirschfeld is now just one step from realizing his dream of playing in the NHL.
Hirschfeld, who played last season for the Toledo Walleye, signed an American Hockey League contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday.
Hirschfeld, who helped lead Northview to the state title game in 2006, will remain in the Detroit Red Wings’ organization. The Red Wings are Toledo’s NHL affiliate.
Hirschfeld, 26, spent the majority of his second professional season with the Walleye last year. He had nine goals and 20 assists in 49 games. The 6-foot, 203-pound forward ranked second on the team in assists and was sixth overall in scoring.
Hirschfeld was called up to Grand Rapids on March 6 and never returned. He made 13 appearances with the Griffins, notching a goal and an assist in 13 games.
“The ultimate goal for everybody is to reach the NHL and now to be one step closer to the Red Wings, who I grew up rooting for, is pretty amazing,” Hirschfeld said. “Any time you can go up to the next level is exciting. And it shows you’re going in the right direction. Being part of this organization is pretty awesome.”
The Sylvania native has accumulated 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) in 51 career AHL games. He played college hockey at nearby Miami University.
Hirschfeld will be on a “two-way contract” with Grand Rapids, which is Toledo’s AHL affiliate. He could be called up to play for the Red Wings. If Hirschfeld were to return to the ECHL he would play for the Walleye.
Hirschfeld and his wife Lauren are expecting their first child, a girl, in October.
“So if I get sent down, I’m will be coming to Toledo, which is good too,” Hirschfeld said. “It’s nice to have stability in terms of Grand Rapids or Toledo.
Walleye re-sign defenseman Elbrecht
The Walleye re-signed defenseman Tyler Elbrecht.
Elbrecht was acquired in a late-February trade. He appeared in in 21 games with the Walleye and posted two assists with 62 penalty minutes.
The rookie, who played at University of Minnesota State-Mankato, started his career last season with Idaho of the ECHL. The native of Edwardsville, Ill., scored one goal to go along with six assists and 110 penalty minutes in 45 games with the Steelheads before he was traded to Toledo on Feb. 24.
Walleye coach Derek Lalonde called Elbrecht a “a tough, physical, and strong defenseman.”
“He is a guy you want to have back on the blue line with that edge that he plays with and the smarts that he brings to the position,” he said.
At 6 feet, 4 inches and 210 pounds, Elbrecht, 25, played in 142 college games before turning pro. He had three goals, 24 assists, and 103 penalty minutes for the Mavericks. He was elected captain in his junior and senior seasons.
Elbrecht was acquired in exchange for defenseman Russ Sinkewich, who played at Bowling Green State University.