OHL Grad and Assistant Coach of the Toledo Walleye Dan Watson will have two Ontario Hockey League alumni on the ice in front of him for the start of the 2014-15 season. Anthony Luciani played his OHL career with the Erie Otters while A.J. Jenks played his four years with the Plymouth Whalers. Both spent time in both the ECHL and AHL in 2013-14. We already featured A.J. Jenks in a more detailed article a few months ago.
Luciani played three years in the OHL from 2008-09 to 2010-11 with the Erie Otters. A sixth round pick by the Otters at the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, it took him a few years to finally get his break in the league. In 2009-10, Anthony led Erie with 38 goals. In his final season, he turned playmaker and led the team with 49 assists, despite appearing in just 54 of the team’s 68 games.
Undrafted to the National Hockey League, Luciani got his first taste of pro hockey in 2010-11, appearing in three games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL after the Otters were eliminated from the Robertson Cup playoffs. The Otters were downed in seven games by the Windsor Spitfires in the opening round. It was a high scoring affair with Windsor outscoring Erie 33-27 on the series. Three games needed overtime. Anthony excelled with seven goals and three assists over the seven games.
Luciani signed an NHL entry level contract with the Florida Panthers in April, 2011. Since 2011-12, he has split his time between the AHL and ECHL. This past season, 2013-14, he appeared in nine AHL games for the San Antonio Rampage and 50 games with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Playing just 50 of Cincinnati’s 72 regular season games, Anthony led the team with 25 goals and 53 points.
Jenks played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2006-07 to 2009-10 with the Plymouth Whalers. He was a seventh round pick by the Sudbury Wolves at the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, 132nd overall, but never played for the Wolves. In his final season in Plymouth, A.J. was team captain.
The Florida Panthers selected Jenks in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, 100th overall, and he signed an entry level contract with the club in April, 2010. He has played pro hockey since 2010-11 in the AHL and ECHL. In 2013-14, he appeared in 41 games for the ECHL’s Florida Everblades and 24 games for the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.
Dan Watson – Assistant Coach
Watson has been assistant coach with the Walleye since 2009-10. Dan played four years in the OHL from 1996-97 to 1999-00 with the Sarnia Sting. He was a seventh round pick by the Sting at the 1996 OHL Priority Selection, 113th overall. Undrafted to the NHL, Watson played pro hockey from 2000-01 to 2006-07 in the AHL, UHL and ECHL. He was team captain of the ECHL’s Long Beach Ice Dogs in 2004-05 and 2005-06. His final season as a player was with the Toledo Storm of the ECHL.
The Walleye are rooted in the Toledo Storm franchise that played from 1991-92 to 2006-07. After operations were suspended for two years, the franchise was reborn as the Walleye with new owners in 2009-10. As the Walleye, the team has yet to win a playoff series in the Kelly Cup playoffs and have qualified for the post season in just two of their five years.
In 2013-14, Toledo finished last in the Eastern Conference and were just one point ahead of the Las Vegas Wranglers for last place overall in the ECHL. The team plays home games at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, a 7,431 seat venue that opened in 2009. The Walleye area affilated with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL and both the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings of the NHL.