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Kalamazoo Wings announce affiliations

September 29, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

KALAMAZOO, MI – What do the Vancouver Canucks and the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League have in common?

Both teams will be affiliated with the Kalamazoo Wings for the 2013-14 season.

While the Canucks and K-Wings renewed their agreement, the addition of the Blues marks the fourth time in the past five seasons that the K-Wings have had a dual affiliation.

In addition, the two deals include partnerships with both clubs AHL teams, the Utica Comets (Vancouver) and the Chicago Wolves (St. Louis). Under the agreement, Vancouver, St. Louis, Utica and Chicago will have the ability to assign players to Kalamazoo.

“We are excited to extend our partnership with an elite organization like the Vancouver Canucks,” said K-Wings Head Coach Nick Bootland. “Vancouver does an outstanding job in communicating with our organization which leads to the aid and growth of their prospects.”

The Canucks are excited to remain with the K-Wings for the third straight year.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Kalamazoo Wings,” said Canucks President and General Manager Michael D. Gillis. “We’ve been pleased with the support and development of a number of our players with the K-Wings. We look forward to continue working with this great organization as an important juncture in our prospects’ careers.”

For the Blues, keeping close ties on their players is one key factor in joining forces with the K-Wings.

“Wendell Young and the Chicago Wolves introduced us to Kevin McDonald and the St Louis Blues and upon introduction we realized our organizations had similar values,” said Bootland. “By having an affiliation based entirely in the Midwest, the Blues will be able to keep a close eye on their prospects.”

The K-Wings have ties with the Blues as current head coach Ken Hitchcock coached the K-Wings from 1993-96. When Hitchcock was coach of the Dallas Stars and won the Stanley Cup, he brought it to Kalamazoo for the fans to see. Eric Bechtol, the K-Wings Equipment Manager worked for the Blues in the same capacity for nine seasons from 1996-2004.

“The St. Louis Blues are excited to begin a new development agreement with the Kalamazoo Wings,” said St. Louis Blues Assistant General Manager, Kevin McDonald. “Nick Bootland and the Wings have had a great deal of success developing players with our AHL affiliate in Chicago, and we are proud to be joining them as we strive to develop future St. Louis Blues players.”

Young, who has made several visits to Wings Stadium over the past few seasons, is confident that the organizations players are in good hands.

“We are pleased to renew our relationship with the Kalamazoo Wings,” said Chicago Wolves general manager Wendell Young. “We are looking forward to our players continuing to learn and develop under Kalamazoo head coach Nick Bootland”

MVP goaltender Martin returning to K-Wings

September 29, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

KALAMAZOO, MI – Last season did not go as planned for the Kalamazoo Wings, but one of the few bright spots is coming back for another season.

The K-Wings announced yesterday that goaltender Joel Martin, last season’s team MVP, is returning to the team for his fifth season.

Turning in a stellar year for the K-Wings, Martin also added his name to the K-Wings ECHL record book in several different areas. In addition to allowing the fewest goals per game (2.70), Martin also set a record making 63 appearances, playing 3,739 minutes, accumulating 31 victories and making 2,051 saves for a save percentage of 0.924.

“Joel’s conditioning and competiveness gives our team a chance to win every night,” said head coach Nick Bootland in a statement released by the team. “His play between the pipes was one of the main reasons we had a chance for a post-season berth last season.”

Martin played in 39 consecutive games from November 23, 2012-February 23, 2013, which is a rarity among goaltenders in any league. Martin made 40 saves or more in 11 games, including four games in which he stopped 46 shots, which tied his own K-Wing record.

Another familiar face will be joining Martin on the ice this season as defenseman Mike Matczak returns for his third season with the K-Wings.

Matczak played in just 23 games for the K-Wings last season before being called up to the AHL where he spent time with both the Manchester Monarchs and Abbotsford Heat.

“Mike is a young defenseman that is continuing to develop his overall game,” said Bootland. “In his time in the AHL, he showed he has the poise to play in all situations.”

In addition to Martin and Matczak, the K-Wings roster stands at 13 players. The 40th season of K-Wings hockey kicks off on Saturday October 19th when the K-wings travel to Evansville, Indiana to take on the IceMen.

K-Wings get offensive; roster expands to 11

September 29, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

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.

K-Wings roster grows by four

September 3, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

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.

K-Wings sign first three players of season

September 3, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

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.

Preseason Games

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.

K-Wings announce pre-season schedule

August 2, 2013 by Administrator · Leave a Comment 

Players trying to secure a roster spot this season with the Kalamazoo Wings will have plenty of opportunities to impress director of hockey operations/head coach Nick Bootland and general manager Jim Burlew this October, as the K-Wings will lace up their skates for three preseason contests.

With training camp slated to start on Monday, October 7th, players will only have to wait two days before their first preseason tilt, when the Toledo Walleye travels to Wings Stadium on Wednesday, October 9th for a 7 p.m. face-off.

Two days later on Friday, October 11th, the K-Wings will be at home again, against their arch-rivals, the Fort Wayne Komets. For only the third-time (February 14, 2001 and October 5, 2012) in the K-Wings 40-year history, the team will play a home game outside of Wings Stadium when they host the Komets at 7:30 p.m. in The Annex.

Tickets for each preseason game will be $5. All K-Wings season ticket holders will receive a FREE ticket to both preseason contests as part of their season ticket package.

The K-Wings will conclude their preseason schedule on the road the following night against the Walleye on Saturday, October 12th with a 7:15 p.m. encounter at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.

In other scheduling news, the K-Wings and Komets also announce that the game originally scheduled on Wednesday, March 5th at Wings Stadium will now be played at Wings Stadium on Sunday, March 9th at 3 p.m.

Kalamazoo will start the regular season on Saturday, October 19th at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana against the Evansville IceMen.

A week later on Saturday, October 26th, the K-Wings and IceMen will face-off again, this time at Wings Stadium for Kalamazoo’s home opener, during the 10th Annual Orange Ice Game. Fans are encouraged to dress in costumes and participate in Halloween festivities.

Season and flexi-plan tickets for the upcoming 40th Anniversary season of K-Wings hockey are currently on sale at the K-Wings front office. Fans can purchase their tickets during regular business hours by calling a K-Wings Ticket Representative at (269) 743-6011.

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