Ontario Hockey League grad A.J. Jenks has agreed to another season with the Toledo Walleye after the club enjoyed a highly successful year in the ECHL in 2014-15. Michigan born and a veteran of four years with the Plymouth Whalers, Jenks is currently the only OHL alumnus on the Walleye roster. Former Sarnia Sting Dan Watson returns as Associate Head Coach.
Jenks played four years in the OHL from 2006-07 to 2009-10, all with the Plymouth Whalers. Originally, A.J. was drafted by the Sudbury Wolves in the seventh round of the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, 132nd overall.
In his first season with the Whalers, the team finished second overall in the OHL, one point behind the London Knights. Plymouth won the Ontario Hockey League championship over the Sudbury Wolves in six games. At the Memorial Cup tournament, the Whalers fell to the host Vancouver Giants 8-1 in the semi-final game.
A.J. played for the United States at the 2010 IIHF World Juniors in Saskatchewan. Over seven games, Jenks added five points on three goals and two assists. The U.S.A. won gold with a 6-5 overtime win over Canada in the final.
Over his OHL career, Jenks scored 79 and assisted on 114 for 193 points over 249 regular season games. In 44 playoff games, he added six goals and eleven assists.
The Florida Panthers selected Jenks in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, 100th overall. He has played pro hockey since 2010-11 in the American Hockey League and ECHL.
In 2014-15, he played 42 games for the Toledo Walleye, scoring 16 and assisting on nine for 25 points. In 20 playoff games, he added 12 points. The Walleye finished first overall in the ECHL with 50 wins and 107 points. Toledo lost in the Eastern Conference final to the South Carolina Stingrays in seven games. A.J. also appeared in 27 games with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL.
The Walleye play home games at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, a 7,431 seat venue that opened in 2009. For 2015-16, the Walleye will be affiliated with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. Previously, ECHL clubs could be affiliated with more than one NHL team but as of 2015-16 each must have exclusive affiliation with just one team.
The team has been known as the Walleye since 2009-10. Previous to that, the Toledo Storm existed from 1991-92 to 2006-07. As mentioned, in 2014-15, the team finished first overall in the ECHL and lost in the Eastern Conference finals. Their first playoff win came in 2014-15. Previously, as the Walleye, the franchise had reached the post season just twice, losing to the Charlotte Checkers in the 2009-10 conference quarter-finals and to the Cincinnati Cyclones in the 2012-13 conference quarters.
Associate Head Coach Dan Watson is an OHL grad. He played four years with the Sarnia Sting from 1996-97 to 1999-00. The Sting drafted him in the seventh round of the 1996 OHL Priority Selection, 113th overall. Watson played pro hockey from 2000-01 to 2006-07 in the AHL, UHL and ECHL, finishing his playing career with the Toledo Storm. He was team captain of the Long Beach Ice Dogs for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 ECHL seasons.
Just in case you haven’t heard, the ECHL and AHL strategically swapped franchises in a few markets for the 2015-16 season. The Bakersfield Condors are now the Norfolk Admirals. The Ontario Reign are now the Manchester Monarchs. The Stockton Thunder are now the Adirondack Thunder.