Watson, Hensick to coach, play in All-Star Classic

Toledo Walleye head coach Dan Watson has been named as one of the coaches for the 2022 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic hosted by the Jacksonville Icemen on Monday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m.

  Newfoundland’s Eric Wellwood will join Watson in the coaching duties. The game will air LIVE exclusively on NHL Network and be streamed via FloHockey.

This is the third time that Watson will be coaching in an ECHL All-Star game after being behind the bench for the 2017 and 2019 events. 

Watson is the sixth coach in ECHL history to work three All-Star contests in a coaching career. Watson and Wellwood were selected by virtue of their teams having the top winning percentages through the games of December 22, 2021.

“I am really looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to coach a tremendous roster of players and to work with another great coach in Eric Wellwood of Newfoundland,” said Watson. “A lot of the credit for this goes to the players and staff for what we have accomplished so far this year.”

After serving as an assistant and associate head coach for the first seven years of Walleye hockey, he took over as the third coach in Walleye history prior to the start of the 2016-17 season. Since taking over as head coach he has led the Walleye to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2019 while also bringing home Coach of the Year honors twice (2017-18 and 2018-19). He has led the Walleye to a 194-80-25 record in the regular season while posting a 29-21 record in the postseason.

The native of Glencoe, Ontario, played seven professional seasons amassing 447 games in the AHL, ECHL and UHL while scoring 23 goals with 66 assists and 394 penalty minutes. His first professional contract was signed in 2009 with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. The 42-year-old finished his playing career with the Toledo Storm in the 2006-07 season while setting a career best with 25 points (4G, 21A).

Walleye forward T.J. Hensick has been named as a player for the all-star game.

This is the second time that Hensick will be an ECHL All-Star as he played in the game that was hosted by the Walleye in 2019. The 36-year-old was an All-Star four times in the AHL during his illustrious career. His first appearance in the game came in 2008 while he was playing for Lake Erie and he also was an All-Star in 2010 while with the Monsters. Hensick was also an AHL All-Star in 2011 and 2012 when he was a member of the Peoria Rivermen.

The Howell, Michigan native was leading the ECHL in scoring for most of this season but currently ranks third overall with a Walleye-leading 35 points (16G, 19A). His 16 goals are tied for second among all ECHL players while his 19 assists have him tied for sixth. His -plus-18 rating is fourth among all ECHL players.

Hensick’s playing career has spanned 928 total professional games since his pro debut in 2007. In that time he has collected 237 goals, 553 assists, and 790 points. In 133 games with Toledo dating back to 2018, Hensick has produced 49 goals and 100 assists for an average of 1.12 points per game.

In this year’s All-Star event, the host Jacksonville Icemen will take on a team of ECHL All-Stars representing the other teams in the League, as well as feature several Skills events which will count as a goal towards the winning Player’s team score. Each team will also have a representative from the Premier Hockey Federation and Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.

The 14th class of the ECHL Hall of Fame will be officially inducted at a luncheon, presented by BFL CANADA and Sutton Special Risk, on Monday, Jan. 17 at 12:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront in Jacksonville, Florida, the Official Host Hotel of the 2022 ECHL All-Star Classic.

For more information on the 2022 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic, and to purchase tickets, please visit www.echlallstarclassic.com.

Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 27 teams in 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 34th season in 2021-22. There have been 710 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 12 who have made their NHL debuts in the 2021-22 season. 

The ECHL has affiliations with 27 of the 32 NHL teams in 2021-22, marking the 25th consecutive season that the league has affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.


Christopoulos top goaltender

Walleye goaltender Billy Christopoulos has been named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month for December.

Christopoulos went 5-0-2 with a 1.79 goals against average and .946 save percentage in his seven games in the month. He allowed two goals or less in six of the seven starts while picking up 30 or more saves in each contest. He took home Goaltender of the Week honors for the week that ended on December 19, a week in which he went 3-0-0 with a sparkling 1.32 GAA and .959 SVP.

The 27-year-old is 11-2-2 this year in his return to the Walleye with a 2.51 GAA and a .919 SVP. His 11 wins are tied for the second in the ECHL and he is currently unbeaten in regulation over his last 11 starts (9-0-2). Christopoulos had a breakout season during the 2019-20 season when he went 23-3-3 with a 2.30 GAA and a .932 SVP for Toledo. That year he was named as the goaltender for the ECHL All-Rookie Team. In his ECHL career, he has appeared in 61 games with a record of 45-10-5 with a 2.36 GAA and .924 SVP

From 2015-2019, the native of Raleigh, North Carolina was with the Air Force Academy. In 93 games for the Falcons, Christopoulos went 42-31-11 with a 2.29 GAA and a .913 SVP. He appeared in a career-best 43 games during his junior campaign (20017-2018) in which he also scored career-bests in wins with 23, a 2.06 GAA and .922 SVP. Christopoulos was awarded AHA Goaltender of the Year in back to back years (2017-2019) during which he won 37 games.





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