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Walleye Need Big Game From Cossa to Turn Around ECHL WCF



Sebastian Cossa, Red Wings

The Toledo Walleye are down 2-0 to Idaho Steelheads in ECHL Western Conference Final, but the Detroit Red Wings have to be pleased with the experience  their prospects are receiving

Obviously, the Red Wings would prefer the Walleye be up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. However, the Walleye are now coming home for three games and dealing with playoff adversity is part of the process of being a pro player. That’s particularly beneficial for 2021 first-round pick Sebastian Cossa who someday could be the Red Wings’ No. 1 goalie. One reason why Detroit GM Steve Yzerman placed Cossa with Toledo is that he anticipated the team and the ECHL could provide him with a full range of experiences.

Stingy Goaltending

Cossa and fellow Red Wings prospect John Lethemon continue to play well in the Walleye net. Cossa stopped 31 of 33 shots in a 3-0 loss to Steelheads Saturday night. (The Steelheads scored an empty netter). In five playoff games, he’s 4-1 with a 1.41 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. Lethemon, who signed with the Red Wings later in the season, stopped 35 of 38 shots in Game 2.  He is 4-1 with a 2.42 GAA and .924 save percentage. The former Michigan State goalie will be a restricted free agent this summer. He has played impressive enough to be part of the Red Wings’ minor-league mix next season.

Coach Dan Watson has been rotating his goalies, and it is Cossa’s turn to play Game 3 at home Wednesday.

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The Walleye hope to turn the series around at home. But the Steelheads are a formidable group. They were the ECHL’s best team in the regular-season. The fact that the Walleye didn’t score in the first two games in Idaho is evidence of how strong Idaho is. The Walleye were 8-0 in the playoffs, with two series sweeps, prior to this series.

Detroit prospect defenseman Seth Barton (drafted 81st overall in 2018), Donovan Sebrango (drafted 63rd overall in 2020) and Eemil Viro (drafted 70th overall) are also playing for the Walleye. Barton has played particularly well offensively, leading Walleye defensemen with nine points in 10 games. Viro and Sebrango have two points each.