On April 15, 2015, 15 or so guys walked into Breck-Anderson Ice Arena in Golden Valley, MN to see what this adult hockey thing was all about, and the rest is history. It isn’t easy teaching yourself how to skate and play hockey as an adult, but the beginner school organized by the Adult Hockey Association (AHA) is a great place to start.
After a couple weeks of drills, we were randomly assigned to teams. We chose our first team captain, Jon Schmoll, and the rest is history. We connected as a group immediately, and within days we had decided on a team name and the best logo adult hockey has ever seen! As beginner school continued, we quickly learned that we enjoyed each other’s company on the ice, in the locker room, and always at local watering hole Schuller’s for a post-game pitcher.
The Walleye experienced immediate success, going 8-1 in beginner school league play and taking the championship 5-3 over the Troopers. Following beginner school, the Walleye formally jumped into AHA winter league play, starting at the lowest level (D2) and over the years adding teams and jumping up as many as three AHA tiers.
In the years since, the Walleye have had an incredible run on the ice, making the playoffs in 10 out of 11 winter seasons. In 2017, Justin Ihle was asked to take over as captain, and original Walleye Scott Birkins and Matt Knapp were added as alternate captains. Shortly after, the Walleye formed the Fighting Walleye Hockey Club, a non-profit that allows us to fund all Walleye teams and activities via annual player fees.
In 2019, the Walleye expanded to two teams, in 2021 added a third and added a fourth in 2022. Today, we have a total of nearly 61 players across our C1, C2, and two C3 tier teams.
The Walleye won their first AHA championship in 2018-19 at the D1 level, and just two years later took the C3 trophy. We’ve won a couple of AHA Fall Classic titles in there as well. See our Post-Season History page for more.
As incredible things have been for us on the ice, perhaps our greatest success has been the team culture we have established. Each team has its own unique culture, but we always go out of our way to get the whole crew together to continue to build the full team culture.
After hundreds of league games as a team, you’d think we’d need a break from each other. But we skate together in summer leagues, in Walleye pre-season and pre-playoff scrimmages. We have annual team BBQs, golf outings, and more.
Oh, and then there’s the Walleye merch. Don’t be surprised if you see the Walleye logo around town, as we have gone a little overboard here. Multiple versions of Walleye hoodies, caps, winter hats, t-shirts, plus golf shirts, pajama pants, and more. We’re a branded crew. Visit our Walleye store to get in on the fun.
Stay tuned, as the Walleye’s story continues to evolve. We’re thankful for our fans and look forward to continued success on and off the ice!
Justin Ihle #65
President, Fighting Walleye Hockey Club