KALAMAZOO — As the 40th season of Kalamazoo Wings hockey quickly approaches, the player signings for the upcoming season are slowly coming to light.
Four players, two with previous ties to the K-Wings and two hailing from Michigan, were added to the roster.
Joe Sova, a defenseman, was a member of the K-Wings during the 2011-12 season, but his stay was short-lived. As a prospect of the New Jersey Devils, Sova played only 18 games with the K-Wings before his rights were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. Sova played the remainder of the season with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. Once the regular season ended, Sova headed back to the ECHL to play for Florida Everblades, where he helped them defeat the K-Wings in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals and capture the Kelly Cup.
“Joe has played some of his best professional hockey in a K-Wings uniform,” said Nick Bootland, director of hockey operations/head coach. “We (K-Wings) know he spent a lot of time during the off-season preparing himself by finding more ways to contribute.”
In his 18 games with the K-Wings, Sova scored two goals and added five assists.
While he only played three games with the K-Wings at the end of last season, defenseman Brandon Martell made an impression on Bootland.
“Brandon showed plenty of potential in his short time with the K-Wings,” said Bootland. “We (K-Wings) are excited to watch him grow in his first full pro season.”
Martell joined the K-Wings following his collegiate career at Ohio State University where he was a three-time scholar athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
Ray Kaunisto, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, joins the K-Wings after spending last season with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL where the forward scored seven goals and 16 assists. Spending the majority of the last three seasons in the AHL, Kaunisto played for the Manchester Monarchs and Saint John’s IceCaps.
“Ray is a fluid skater that plays gritty,” said Bootland. “His big frame allows him to create space for others and himself.”
Kaunisto spent four years playing for Northern Michigan University and signed an entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings.
Rounding out the latest group of signings is forward Anthony Maiani, a native of Shelby Township.
Spending last season with the Allen Americans of the CHL, Maiani got his professional start in the ECHL playing for the Chicago Express, Colorado Eagles and South Carolina Stingrays.
In 60 games with the Americans last season, Maiani scored 17 goals and 38 assists in route to helping the Americans capture the CHL Championship.
“Anthony possesses a lot of speed and anticipates the play,” said Bootland. “Last season, he demonstrated a great scoring touch and contributed on a championship team.”
The K-Wings first game of the regular season is Oct. 19 as the K-Wings travel to Evansville, Ind. to take on the IceMen. The home portion of the schedule kicks off the following Saturday as the K-Wings host the IceMen for the 10th Annual Orange Ice Game.