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Rival player named assistant coach for K-Wings

August 1, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

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.”

K-Wings announce 2013-14 schedule

June 19, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

KALAMAZOO- The ECHL Reading Royals defeated the Stockton Thunder for the Kelly Cup just a few short weeks ago, but the league is already looking forward to next season as the 2013-14 schedule was released yesterday afternoon.

Celebrating their 40th season, the Kalamazoo Wings will kick off the season on the road against the Evansville IceMen on Friday, October 19th.   The IceMen will then travel to Wings Stadium on Saturday October 26th for the K-Wings home opener which will also feature the 10th Annual Orange Ice Game.

Teams in the ECHL play a 72-game schedule (36 home and 36 away).  The K-Wings will play 31 of their 36 home games on a weekend or holiday this season.

The K-Wings will host the Cincinnati Cyclones for the 12th Annual New Year’s Eve Bash on December 31st.  The 14th Annual Pink Ice Game will be held on Friday, February 14th as the Toledo Walleye swim into town.  And the Orlando Solar Bears come to Kalamazoo for the 33rd Annual World Famous Green Ice Game on Monday, March 17th.

Facing all 12 teams in the Eastern Conference, the K-Wings will face the Fort Wayne Komets the most this season and the Florida Everblades the least. The Greenville Road Warriors are the only team not making an appearance at Wings Stadium this season while the K-Wings will not be visiting the Everblades or South Carolina Stingrays.

Team

Home

Away

Total

Cincinnati Cyclones

6

5

11

Elmira Jackals

1

5

6

Evansville Icemen

2

2

4

Florida Everblades

1

0

1

Fort Wayne Komets

8

6

14

Gwinnett Gladiators

2

1

3

Greenville Road Warriors

0

2

2

Orlando Solar Bears

2

3

5

Reading Royals

4

4

8

South Carolina Stingrays

2

0

2

Toledo Walleye

7

6

13

Wheeling Nailers

1

2

3

Totals

36

36

72

The K-Wings will release their promotional schedule later this summer.  For a complete schedule of the K-Wings 2013-14 season go to www.kwings.com.

Amazing Race has Kalamazoo connection

February 19, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

KALAMAZOO — As if being professional athletes wasn’t enough of an adventure, brothers Bates and Anthony Battaglia wanted to flex their athletic muscles in another way: by trying out to be contestants on the CBS reality show The Amazing Race. They were chosen to appear on the show and were one of 11 teams that took off last night for a race around the world on the show’s most recent season premiere.

Both Bates and his younger brother Anthony played professional hockey. Bates spent nine seasons in the NHL playing primarily for the Carolina Hurricanes. Anthony, Western Michigan University hockey alum, also spent a season (2008-09) playing for the Kalamazoo Wings. Bates has since retired and co-owns Lucky B’s, the “classiest dive bar in Raleigh,” according to their website. Anthony currently plays for the Huntsville Havoc of the SPHL.

“Just being the athletes and competitors that we are, watching the show, we thought we could absolutely do it, so why not try out?” Anthony said. His brother Bates echoed his sentiments. “Absolutely the competitive aspect. When we are not playing hockey, we are out playing volleyball, golf … we are always doing something,” Bates said.

Heading into the race, the brothers used their knowledge from the show’s past seasons to help them hopefully hold an advantage over their competition.

“Watching past seasons, we got hints on cab rides, making sure we got the right drivers, making sure they had gas in their cars. Stuff like that,” Anthony said.

Bates added that they watched old shows to learn the tricks of the trade. “That way we were less surprised by anything and would be ready for whatever they would throw at us,” he said.

The duo hoped to use their hockey experience on the race, as well. “Going into it, we thought it could give us an advantage because, in hockey, the situations are never the same,” Bates said. “You play in different cities against different people, and you have to be prepared for anything.”

The brothers said the race was harder than it looks on TV, including on their bodies.

“It is tough on your body,” Bates said. “It is so much harder than you think. Your body definitely feels it.”

“Expect the unexpected” is a key phrase on another CBS reality show, Big Brother, but it was the unknown that the brothers feared on The Amazing Race. “Going into it, we were scared for the things we couldn’t control, like running into taxi drivers that didn’t speak English or crappy cars, running out of gas, things like that,” Bates said.

Anthony was afraid that the exposure of the race might land him on another TV show. “I’m scared we are going to get on The Soup with Joel McHale and have him make fun of me,” he said. The Soup is a weekly show on the E! Network that pokes fun at talk show, reality TV, and other forms of pop culture.

While we won’t know whether the Battaglia brothers were eliminated or won the $1 million grand prize, one thing is for sure: The Amazing Race left an impact on both of them. “I took away knowing what I can accomplish when being pushed to my limits,” Anthony said. Bates remarked, “I took away knowing that we don’t like to fail and that, if we do, we can brush it off and keep moving.”

Playing for the Havoc, Anthony was reunited with a former K-Wing teammate, Glenn Detulleo, who is now the head coach of the team. Detulleo said that, based on what he knew of the younger Battaglia, he was at first shocked to hear that he was going to be on the show. “I did play with ‘Tags’ in Kalamazoo,” Detulleo said. “He’s a pretty quiet guy, so I was a little surprised, but after hearing it was a partnership with his brother, I thought it made perfect sense.”

The Havoc held a watch party for the premier episode last night following their game against the Mississippi Surge. Battaglia scored the game-tying goal and the Havoc went on to win the game in the shootout. Detulleo noted that he and the players were looking forward to watching the show and said that he expects the players to start ribbing Anthony, now that the first episode is out of the way. As for Detulleo himself, he is hoping to see a new side to Anthony. “I’m looking forward to seeing him get rattled or blow up a little,” Detulleo said. “He’s usually so quiet, so it would be very entertaining.”

Anthony and his brother finished second in the premiere last night.

The Amazing Race can be seen every Sunday evening at 8 on CBS. If you missed last night’s episode, www.cbs.com usually posts already-aired episodes on their website.

Bates (l) and Anthony Battaglia

Bates (l) and Anthony Battaglia

Shorthanded K-Wings defeat Cyclones 4-1

February 19, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

CINCINNATI, Ohio — If taking on the first place team in the division wasn’t enough for the Kalamazoo Wings, the flu bug posed another challenge for them on Monday afternoon as they battled the Cincinnati Cyclones.

Two players, defenseman Kyle Page and forward Wesley Myron, were out of the line and defenseman Sam Ftorek left the game in the second period with an injury, but the K-Wings pushed through the adversity to beat the Cyclones 4-1.

Another player, forward Alexandre Mallet, was also missing from the lineup as he was called up to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL yesterday.

Jumping out to a 2-0 first period lead, a rocket from Sam Ftorek gave the K-Wings their first goal of the afternoon. Just 42 seconds later Jeff Pierce scored on a breakaway to put the K-Wings up by a pair.

Tyler Shelast gave the K-Wings a 3-0 lead with his fifth of the season just 26 seconds into the second period.

The K-Wings held on to their three-goal advantage despite being outshot 21-5 in the period.

Former K-Wing Taylor Ellington put the Cyclones on the board just over a minute into the third period with his seventh goal of the season.

Regaining their three-goal lead later in the period, Brett Lysak scored his 16th of the year midway into the period.

The line of Lysak (one goal, one assist), Aaron Clarke (two assists) and Shelast (one goal, two assists) finished the game with a combined seven points.

Joel Martin stood tall as he turned away 40 of the 41 shots he faced while Brian Foster stopped 19 of the 23 he saw.

Both teams came up empty on the power play.

The K-Wings will continue their five-game road trip with a game against the Reading Royals on Friday. The K-Wings will then play two against the Elmira Jackals on Saturday and Sunday before returning home.

K-Wings News and Notes

Next home game: The K-Wings’ next home game will be Friday, March 1 when the face-off against the Cyclones on Vegas Night. The game begins at 7:30 p.m.

Special Appearance: The stars of truTV’s Hardcore Pawn will be the featured entertainment during the K-Wings March 9 game against the Toledo Walleye. Les Gold, Seth Gold and Ashley Broad will be at the game to sign autographs and will bring merchandise that fans can purchase. Fans can also bring in approved items for appraisal. In addition, one fan will be chosen to play the K-Wings/Hardcore Pawn version of “Let’s Make a Deal” during intermission.

K-Wings pick up five points over weekend

January 27, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

KALAMAZOO-The Kalamazoo Wings (19-19-4-1) earned five out six possible points this weekend for a total of 43 and inched a little closer to the Fort Wayne Komets (23-19-1-1), who are now just five points ahead of them in the North Division.

The Cincinnati Cyclones (26-14-4-1) lead the division with 57 points, followed by the Toledo Walleye (23-17-0-4) with 50. The Evansville IceMen (16-26-1-3) round out the division with 36 points.

On Friday, the K-Wings defeated the Walleye by a score of 3-1. Nick Sirota, John Armstrong and Dustin Cloutier scored for the K-Wings.

The Cyclones fought back from a 2-0 deficit on Saturday to push the game into overtime. Newcomer Yann Sauve made his presence known by scoring the game winner just 38 seconds into OT. Alexandre Mallet and Cloutier each scored in the second period.

Making their first-ever visit to Wings Stadium, the Western Conference Bakersfield Condors battled the K-Wings on Sunday afternoon.

A scoreless second period was sandwiched between a two-goal first and third for the two teams. The K-Wings scored twice in the opening period with Sirota and Brett Lysak giving the home team an early 2-0 lead. The goal by Lysak was his 400th career point as a professional.

The Condors scored a pair of goals in the third period to push the game in to overtime. With time winding down in the extra stanza, the Condors Peter Boyd deflected an Erik Burgoerfer shot into the net for the win.

The K-Wings had 50 shots on the night while the Condors had 48.

Remaining home, the K-Wings will host the Fort Wayne Komets this Wednesday night. The puck drops at 7:00 pm.

Bootland hoping K-Wings gain confidence, consistency in second half

January 20, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

KALAMAZOO — With the Kalamazoo Wings’ season entering the second half of the schedule, the team finds itself in fourth place in the North Division standings, just one point ahead of the last place Evansville IceMen and 13 points behind the division leading Cincinnati Cyclones.

If the season ended today, the K-Wings would miss the playoffs for the first time since joining the ECHL in 2009-10. While the current standings are not sitting well with the fans, the team, or head coach Nick Bootland for that matter, the panic button has not been pushed as of yet.

“We were in this place once before, in January of 2011,” Bootland recalled. “We were under .500 as well. Everything seemed to click at that point.” The K-Wings went on to capture their second consecutive North Division crown before falling to the Alaska Aces in the Kelly Cup Finals.

This year, however, things are a little bit different in the world of hockey with the NHL lockout making waves in the ECHL. The lockout, which has been resolved after 113 days, gave several teams the opportunity to stack their rosters with players to whom they most likely otherwise would not have had access to, which has helped them out to this point.

Bootland said that he built his team based upon the lockout ending in December, which was the best “guesstimate” that he was hearing. By opting to keep his team at a “post lockout” level, Bootland said he is well aware that it may hurt them in the immediate, but he feels that once all is said and done, his team will be better off for it.

“I feel that, with the lockout resolved, and once the dust settles here and we get healthy as a hockey team, we will be in a better situation than we were in while the lockout was on,” Bootland said.

Firmly believing that his team does have the heart and desire to play and win games, Bootland feels that what his team is lacking is consistency and confidence, and without those, the team does not have the level of composure that is needed to win.

“You look at the type of losses we had this year in that tough stretch in November,” Bootland recalls. “How we were losing games and what that can do to a mental mindset, that was difficult for us. That’s difficult for anyone to go through. It was difficult for me to go through and I’ve been at this for 15 years and I’ve never really been a part of teams losing the types of games, playing the way we were playing, and losing the games the way we were.”

Call-ups and injuries have forced the K-Wings to make several roster moves over the course of the season, which is not unusual, especially in a development league like the ECHL. But bringing in new players, whether assigned by the AHL or signed by the team, does not guarantee wins.

“When you lose eight players out of your lineup (in just over a week) that was still struggling to be consistent, it is not easy to find that parity and get everyone on the same page as quickly as possible,” Bootland said.

It is not uncommon for players to arrive in town just mere hours before a game.

Teaching the systems and getting those new players up to speed is no cake walk either, but between teaching on the ice, video, whiteboard meetings and a newly designed “New Player Handbook,” Bootland and his staff work as hard as they can, to get all the players to gel and fast.

It is not as simple as skating and shooting the puck. Every team has many different plays they do, whether it is a controlled break out in the defensive zone, with the puck, without the puck, face-off plays on all areas of the ice, and the list goes on.

“Our team, for example, we have five or six different face-off plays just in our D-zone in general,” he said. “With new guys in the lineup, we try to stay away from the more complex plays and try to simplify things and get them moving in the right direction as soon as we can.”

Finding capable players is another can of worms, especially this time of year. The K-Wings signed former Western Michigan University alums Jeff Pierce and Brian Bicek last week, which Bootland said is rare this time of year.

“They are pretty established fourth and fifth year guys that have played in the Central Hockey League and just happened to not have a job at the time,” he added. “We were pretty fortunate for guys like this to be available.”

Regardless of availability, Bootland is always scouring the market for potential players.

Bootland said that they are constantly calling guys and watching the transactions in Europe to see if there are guys leaving and talking to guys in Europe to see if they want to come back to play in North America. “We’re touching base with those guys all the time. Other leagues where other guys are doing well, we are watching those leagues as well,” he added. “We look at every possible avenue. January is not an easy time to find quality players; they aren’t just sitting around doing nothing.”

Heading into the second half of the season, Bootland is well aware of what his team faces, but the resolve is the same as it has always been: to win it all.

“We want to win the whole thing, we’re not going to give up on that,” he said. “Our goal isn’t just to get in, our goal is to get in and put ourselves in a good position.”

“Once the consistency picks up, we will be a more confident team,” he added, “and that will bring the composure that we’re talking about and these things will lead to better results and more wins.”

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