KALAMAZOO – The Kalamazoo Wings roster continues to grow with the latest installment of announced signings.
Bryan Cameron, Ryan Del Monte, Yanni Gourde and Ian Saab have all inked deals with the K-Wings for the upcoming season.
Cameron spent last season in the ECHL playing for both the San Francisco Bulls and Utah Grizzlies where he scored a combined 20 goals and 27 assists.
Picked in the third round (82nd overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Cameron got his start with the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL during the 2010-11 season.
“Bryan is a player that knows how to pay the price to score goals,” said head coach Nick Bootland, in a statement released by the team on Thursday. “He is a hardworking player that has a very high hockey IQ.”
Splitting his time last season with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL and the San Francisco Bulls, Gourde is set to begin his second season as a pro with the K-Wings.
In just 10 games with the Bulls, Gourde scored four goals and six assists. Spending most of the season with the Sharks, Gourde scored eight goals and six assists in 41 games.
“Yanni is a playmaker that goes into the tough areas of the ice and battles,” said Bootland. “He is a dynamic player that will be used in all situations.”
Del Monte was signed by the K-Wings before the 2011-12 season but never played a single game with the team. Instead, Del Monte attended training camp with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL, earning a spot and spending the entire season with the team.
Spending last season in Germany playing for the Rosenheim Star Bulls, Del Monte scored 10 goals and 20 assists in 42 games.
“Ryan brings championship experience,” said Bootland. “He has played in a lot of the top leagues of our sport and his experience will be an asset to our team.”
Del Monte was a member of the 2010 Kelly Cup Champions Cincinnati Cyclones.
Rounding out the signings is Saab, a defenseman, who will be playing in his first full season as a professional. Saab played in eight games last season in Austria.
“Ian is a scrappy defenseman that has the tools to be an all around player,” said Bootland. “He knows how to stick up for his teammates and he knows how to protect the crease.”
Saab started his junior career in the Maritime Junior Hockey League (MJAHL) playing for the Halifax Lions. Following his time with the Lions, Saab spent four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) splitting time with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Lewiston MAINEiacs and the St. John Sea Dogs.
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.
Kalamazoo Wings have been clamoring for weeks, wondering when the K-Wings would announce the signings of players for the upcoming season.
The wait is over.
The K-Wings announced the signings of three players, all of whom have previous ties to the team.
Last year’s team captain, Elgin Reid, will be returning for his third season with the team. Reid scored 10 goals and 23 assists last season, ranking second in scoring for defensemen on the K-Wings’ blue line.
“Elgin has been a leader for our team the past two years,” said K-Wings Coach Nick Bootland in a statement released by the team. “He possesses the practice habits that can make the players around him excel.”
Reid was named as last season’s Harold Zeigler Auto Group’s Defenseman of the Year.
Returning for his fifth season as a K-Wing is last year’s assistant captain, defenseman Sam Ftorek.
“He (Ftorek) is the ultimate team-first player, who will do anything to help his team win,” said Bootland. “Sam’s skill set will be a valuable assist on the power-play.”
Ftorek has played in 918 regular season games as a professional, 266 of those as a K-Wing. Ftorek is currently the ECHL’s active leader in games played with 697 and is tied with Wes Goldie for third place in all-time games played in the league.
Last season, Ftorek scored nine goals and 27 assists and was given the Pepsi Sportsmanship Award.
Forward Justin Taylor, who was traded just 11 games into last season, is returning the K-Wings this season.
Taylor, who with the K-Wings and the Idaho Steelheads, reached the conference finals each of the past three seasons.
“Justin brings excitement to our locker room,” said Bootland. “As a younger player, he has leadership qualities and knows how to compete in practice and sticks up for players.”
In Taylor’s first two seasons with the K-Wings, he scored 48 goals and 46 assists and was named as the Rookie of the Year in his first season with the team.
In preparation for the regular season and to give all players a chance to shine in order to make the team, the K-Wings will play three preseason games.
Training camp will kick off on Oct. 7 and the K-Wings will play their first preseason game on Wednesday, Oct. 9, as the Toledo Walleye make the trip to Wings Stadium.
On Friday, Oct. 11, the K-Wings will host the Fort Wayne Komets in a game that will be held in The Annex as Wings Stadium. The K-Wings will then travel to Toledo to take on the Walleye the following night.
It is hard to believe that school starts in just a few days.
It seems like just yesterday that students were packing up their desks and saying their goodbyes for the summer.
Being that I was a student teacher when the last school year ended, I realized just how emotional the last day can be for both students and teachers!
Many students were in tears either because they would miss their friends, were moving away or maybe a little scared of leaving the comfort of elementary school.
* And yes, even teachers are known to become a little sentimental at the end of the school year. When you spend that much time with the students, getting to know them, encouraging them and helping them on their path to success, you become attached to them.
But the school bell is about to ring on another new year and that process will begin anew.
It is hard for me to believe that my oldest is moving on to yet another grade. It is even harder for me to believe that this time next year our youngest will be entering kindergarten. Time flies.
My daughter is still at the age where she is excited about going to school, seeing her friends and yes, even learning. It gives us such a great joy to see the dedication she has to learning and trying her best. Sure, there are times when the motivation just isn’t there, but for the most part, she is one eager learner.
Hopefully that is a trait that sticks with her and her sister for the extent of their lifetime.
The community of Three Rivers and the surrounding area lost a great friend with the passing of Bruce Snook. My encounters with Mr. Snook were few, and for that I am sad. But the legacy he left behind is one of extreme and impressive dedication. When a town, such as Three Rivers, loses someone of Mr. Snook’s caliber, you have lost a strong and sturdy pillar of the community. His loyalty to bringing out the best in Three Rivers and its citizens was a sight to behold.
I came to “know” Mr. Snook from hearing his voice on the airwaves during his time at WLKM. I am sure that I can speak for many of us when I say his voice is one that was so well known that any time you heard it, whether on the radio or across the room, it brought a smile to your face.
His loss will be felt for quite a while in Three Rivers, but think of the legacy he left behind. That legacy is something we can all learn and grow from and that is best way we can honor him. I am sure Mr. Snook would be too humble to accept the accolades that will surely be coming his way over the next few days and weeks and he would instead thank the community. For your many years of selfless promotion of the city that you called home, we thank you. You will be missed.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
— Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Once in a while, a celebrity can say something that is not only intelligent, but also meaningful. They may even say something transforming, moving or life-changing.
Sadly, it seems that when movie stars, athletes or those “15-minutes of fame” pop culture idols open their mouths that is not what you get. More often than not their words amount to nothing more than a bunch of self-promoting drivel about their new movie or abilities in the world of sports.
As we know, however, our “elite” members of society are not always quite the idols that we place up on that pedestal. All too often we are usually left with a sour taste in our mouth based on what they say or do.
However, we look up to them or want to be like them, just the same.
But once in a while, they surprise us. And that was the case recently with TV and movie star Ashton Kutcher. While accepting an award at the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards, Kutcher, who is currently on the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” spoke directly to today’s youth.
His words were pretty impressive and I just hope that the children that were watching really listened to what he had to say.
After saying that his real name is not even Ashton, but actually Chris, he went on to talk about the three amazing things he learned about life when he was Chris. Or in other words, before he became a super star.
“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work,” Kutcher stated. Listing off the jobs he held in his life, from working in a deli to sweeping floors in a factory, Kutcher says “I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job. And I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”
2. Being sexy
“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. Be smart. Be thoughtful. And be generous.”
3. Living life
“Steve Jobs said when you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is. And your life is to live your life inside the world. And try not to get into too much trouble, and maybe get an education, and get a job and make some money and have a family. But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing. And that is, that everything around us, that we call life, was made up by people who are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things. And you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don’t live one. Build one. Find your opportunity and always be sexy.”
The show that Kutcher is on is known to be quite raunchy and often distasteful, and Kutcher, himself, is no angel.
But whether you like him, his acting, movies or TV shows, the message is relevant. Today’s youth, and in some ways all of us, need to hear messages like this, because all too often we are told that we can’t do something. We are told we have to look a certain way or live our lives a certain way because, well, that is just the way it is.
Is that how you build a life? If that was the case, I would have given up my dream of becoming a teacher years ago, because I did not finish college when I was in my early 20’s, as is “customary.” My life and career took a different path, but each stop along the way helped me to get to my eventual goal.
Life should not be defined by a strict set of rules that you feel you have to adhere to because that is just the way it is or based on how you look, but rather what you make of it and yourself.
You are the driver of that car called destiny. If you can believe in yourself, you can do amazing things. That is actually one of the reasons why I have always wanted to become a teacher; because I want to make sure students know this and help cultivate that spirit of enthusiasm about life and their future.
Let’s face it; our future is in the hands of today’s youth. We need to make sure they are on the right path in order to build their life and get out of the shadows of feeling that they cannot succeed for reasons that should not even exist.
KALAMAZOO — If Kalamazoo Wings fans thought they had seen the last of Fort Wayne Komets player Colin Chaulk, they need to think again.
After spending 10 of his 15 professional seasons with the Komets, where he was a part of six championships, and being a major thorn in the side of the K-Wings for years, Chaulk retired this past April. But that doesn’t mean that fans have seen the last of Chaulk: in fact, they will be seeing much more of him this season.
In a move that caught many by surprise, the K-Wings announced that Chaulk had been hired as head coach Nick Bootland’s assistant for the upcoming season.
During his years as a Komet, Chaulk was a player that fans loved to hate, but he is confident they will warm up to him in his new role.
“They (the fans) can expect someone that’s fair, honorable, loyal and expects hard work (from the players),” Chaulk said. “Whatever needs to be done, it will be done to make sure that all excuses are taken away when the puck drops.”
Discussions with Chaulk actually began last summer but ended before the season started. Once Chaulk announced his retirement, Bootland approached him again.
“Things were cooling off with Fort Wayne and they were deciding to go forward in a different direction, so I decided to go for it,” Chaulk said.
After several meetings and phone calls, Chaulk was sold on the idea. “I guess since early spring we have been communicating back and forth, and every time we talked on the phone, it was a 30-40 minute conversation,” he added.
“The time I spent with Jim (Burlew, General Manager) and Nick was very impressive,” Chaulk said. “Their vision and how they run their business is similar to how I believe things should be done. I feel like we are compatible, and I am excited to get going.”
After being the “face” of the Komets organization for the past 10 years, Chaulk understands why fans there are a bit perplexed by the news, especially with the Komets hiring a new coach in early June.
“It wasn’t like I called the team around the corner to see if they were willing to give me an opportunity,” he said. “They (the Komets) didn’t accept an interview from me,” he said. “I guess my name was in the hat, so to speak, but I don’t think I made the short list.”
Chaulk does not harbor any hard feelings, however, and said that he is not one to look behind; rather, he chooses to push ahead and move on.
“I definitely do not want to be where I am not wanted,” he added.
Bootland and Chaulk have been crossing paths for many years, starting back when both were players in the OHL. Both men played under former K-Wings coach Mark Reeds, and both were named as captains of their respective squads.
Chaulk recalls Bootland, as a player, being “a big horse, a big body” on the ice. “He was an offensive threat who would put the puck in the net, beat the hell out of you, and could block a shot,” Chaulk said with a laugh.
“I remember him being a fierce competitor and the healthy battles we had many times a year,” Chaulk continued. “I am excited and glad to be on his side now.”
Bootland had high praise for Chaulk, as well. “After he (Colin) announced his retirement, we (K-Wings) pursued him for this role because of all the intangibles he brings,” Bootland said in a press release. “Colin has always been a student of the game, which is evident with the accolades he has earned as a top defensive forward many times throughout his career.”
“I’m excited to get to work,” Chaulk said. “I’m excited to be a team member, a helping hand for Nick, and ready to get the team together and start winning some games.”