KALAMAZOO, MI – While the calendar just turned to July, the Kalamazoo Wings and head coach Nick Bootland are looking ahead to October.
The K-Wings announced the signings of forward Tanner Sorenson and defenseman Sean O’ Rourke on Friday, making them the first two players signed for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
Sorenson, 23, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, will be returning for his second season with the K-Wings. Last season, as a rookie, Sorenson scored 15 goals and added 14 assists in 60 games. In the playoffs, Sorenson saw time in each of the five contests, scoring a goal.
“Tanner is high energy, all the time,” K-Wings head coach Nick Bootland said. “He plays with ferocious speed and has a great shot. His rookie season was a very pleasant surprise for us, and we’re thrilled to have him back.”
Sorenson attended Michigan State University, where he scored 18 goals, 17 assists, and had 32 penalty minutes in 104 games. His professional debut came during the 2014-15 season, as the forward skated in three games with his hometown Alaska Aces at the conclusion of his collegiate career.
O’Rourke, 25, a native of Alta Loma, California, played in one playoff game with the K-Wings following the end of his four-year career at Ferris State University. In 129 games with the Bulldogs, O’Rourke scored six goals and 14 assists.
“Sean has tremendous potential,” Bootland said. “He only saw action in one game last year, but his speed, vision, and hockey sense were all apparent. There’s no doubt that he will bring some burst to our defensive unit.”
The left-handed-shooting defenseman was an assistant captain of last year’s Ferris State team that won the Western College Hockey Association championship and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament. O’Rourke helped lead the Bulldogs to a first round victory over St. Cloud State, but Ferris State bowed out in the second round in a loss to Denver.
The K-Wings have partnered with the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL on a one-year affiliation agreement for the upcoming season.
“We are very happy to welcome the Kalamazoo Wings to the Lightning organization today,” Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois said. “The Wings have maintained a strong commitment to success and we are proud to partner with them. We look forward to furthering the development of our prospects in the ECHL while helping the K-Wings win the Kelly Cup next season.”.”
In separate roster news, the K-Wings have extended qualifying offers to Eric Kattelus, Sacha Guimond, Alex Mallet, Brett Ponich,Cory Pritz, and Lane Scheidl.
Per the ECHL, Players who had already signed a contract by June 30 did not need to receive a qualifying offer.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen