Clarkston native signs contract with Red Wings organization

Clarkston native signs contract with Red Wings organization

By Matt Mackinder
Clarkston News Editor

After five years playing NCAA Division I hockey at Michigan State University and a taste of the pro game at the end of the 2021-22 season, Clarkston native Mitch Lewandowski is ready for his first full season in the pro ranks.
Over the summer, Lewandowski signed a contract with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, the AA affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. Lewandowski sat out the 2022-23 season with an injury after signing with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, but says he is 100 percent for the upcoming season.
“I was looking for a spot that would be best fit for me,” said Lewandowski. “My agent Scott Bartlett mentioned Toledo would be a good spot. Had a phone call with the head coach (Pat Mikesch) shortly after and loved what I was hearing about the city and organization and signed with Toledo three days later.
“It’s going to be great being close to home, 15 minutes farther than it was driving to Michigan State. My parents, family, and friends are excited to be able to come watch games. Toledo being in the Detroit Red Wings organization makes it even that more special being a Michigan kid.”
Sidelined with surgery last season, Lewandowski tore the labrum in one of his shoulders during Orlando’s training camp in October and decided it would be best to get the surgery and prepare for the 2023-24 season.
“I’m happy with my decisions now being 100 percent and ready to go for Toledo,” said Lewandowski.
With the Spartans from 2017-22, Lewandowski played in 156 games and compiled 120 points on 56 goals and 64 assists, along with 144 penalty minutes. He was the Big 10 Rookie of the Year in 2017-18 season when he picked up 19 goals and 34 points in 36 contests, good for second on the Spartans in scoring.
He made his pro debut with the American Hockey League’s Tucson Roadrunners at the end of the 2021-2022 season, appearing in 14 games with a pair of goals and one assist.
“I loved my time in Tucson,” said the 25-year-old Lewandowski. “It was a great transition from college to pro. The guys and coaching staff welcomed me into the organization with open arms and it was a joy for those two months.”
In Clarkston, Lewandowski attended Bailey Lake and Pine Knob elementary schools, Sashabaw Middle School, Clarkston Junior High, and three years at Clarkston High School before leaving to play Tier I junior hockey in the United States Hockey League for the Chicago Steel starting with the 2015-16 season.
Now, with the ECHL season starting in late October, Lewandowski is pumped to get going with the Walleye.
“Personally, I just want to get in there and make an impact,” he said. “After not playing all last season, I’m just excited to be back on a team and doing what I love. The team has a great fan base and is always among one of the top teams in the league. I want to show I can hang with the big boys and just enjoy myself.”

PHOTO: Mitch Lewandowski began his professional hockey career in 2022 with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. Photo: Kate Dibildox

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