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Fans can pick their favorite Walleye player

03/20/2017, 12:59am EDT
By By MARK MONROE BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Fifth annual most popular poll ends March 28


Vote for your favorite Walleye player. THE BLADE

The Walleye already have clinched a spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs for the third consecutive season with contributions from a host of highly-skilled veterans and rookies alike.

With nine games left in the regular season, Toledo also is rolling toward division and conference championships during a record-setting campaign.

Singling out one player for the team’s success is a tall order. But fans will get an chance to do just that with the return of The Blade's “My Favorite Walleye” online poll at toledoblade.com/​favoritewalleye.

This the fifth time the exclusive web poll will determine the team’s most popular player.

The poll opens today and will close March 28. The winner will be announced at the April 2 Walleye game at the Huntington Center.

There are 12 worthy candidates this year. Listed in alphabetical order, are: Shane Berschbach, Simon Denis, Alden Hirschfeld, A.J. Jenks, Zach Nastasiuk, Jake Paterson, Evan Rankin, Beau Schmitz, Tyson Spink, Tylor Spink, Dane Walters, and Nolan Zajac.

There are eight forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie on the list.

There also is a spot for write-in candidates.

This year's team had 95 points and 46 wins after Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win against Tulsa. The team is outpacing the 2014-15 team that won a Toledo ECHL-record 50 games (50-15-7).

Every skater in the poll has scored at least 30 points.

Past winners of the poll were goalie Jeff Lerg (2016), forward Kyle Rogers (2015), forward Willie Coetzee (2013), and forward Riley Emmerson, who won the first poll in 2012.

In 2013, more than 22,000 votes were cast.

Emmerson, a rugged winger, was a surprise winner in 2012. The 6-foot-8 forward had just four points in 34 games but ranked second on the team with 115 penalty minutes.

Coetzee earned the honor in 2013 after leading the Walleye with 68 points in 64 games. A native of South Africa, he also led the team in goals (28) and assists (40).

Rogers, a former team captain who was inducted into Toledo’s first hall of fame class in 2016, won the award in his final season. He is now a color analyst for the team’s television broadcasts.

Lerg, who is back with the Walleye this year, received 1,359 of the 4,339 votes (31.3 percent) cast last year. Rankin, the organization’s all-time leading goal scorer, was a close second (1,247 or 28.7 percent).

To participate in the poll, go to toledoblade.com/​favoritewalleye.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.

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