As the 46th season of Kalamazoo Wings hockey quickly approaches, the roster for the team continues to grow.
Veteran forward/defenseman Eric Kattelus will be back for his ninth season with the K-Wings. During this previous eight seasons with the team, the native of Houghton, Michigan, has played in 373 games and has scored 76 goals and added 192 assists. Those stats have put Kattelus into the K-Wings record books. He is in ninth place in assists, tenth in games played and 15th in total points.
“I’ve had a passion for hockey for as long as I can remember, and to be able to pursue that passion in my home state has been a dream come true,” said Kattelus in a statement released by the team. “Kalamazoo has become a second home to me over the past eight years.”
The team also announced the signings of two rookie defenseman; James Vermeulen and Matt VanVoorhis.
Vermeulen, 23, hails from Spruce Grove, Alberta, and recently wrapped up his collegiate playing career at Northern Michigan University.
Playing in 124 games for the Wildcats, Vermeulen racked up 19 points (3 goals, 16 assists), and walked away with some great memories while at NMU.
“As far as highlights go I would have to say playing in the WCHA championship my Junior year and also helping steer the program in a new direction with my old coach Grant (Potulny), which has meant so much to me,” Vermeulen said. “I’m so excited to see what NMU will accomplish in the future with the rejuvenation of NMU hockey in the Marquette area.”
Vermeulen is excited to get going with the K-Wings and has been impressed with everything he has seen so far.
“The way an organization is run means everything to me,” Vermeulen said. “I’ve been on teams where the identity was still unknown and the organization lacked that professional state of mind and then I’ve been on very professional top-notch programs and it makes a world of difference mentally and physically.”
“With an organization like Kalamazoo, I know they will do everything in their power to make sure I’m ready to go every night, I just have to take care of my side of things,” Vermeulen added.
While Vermeulen said that he would like to contribute more offensively on the ice, which is an aspect that he feels he can grow with the K-Wings, he hopes the fans will be happy with his defensive play.
“I play a more old-fashioned style of defense,” Vermeulen said. “The fans can expect a guy who will be willing to do whatever it takes to win each night. Whether that be blocking shots or just playing minutes in whatever situation, I’m always going to bring a positive attitude and my best effort.”
VanVoorhis, 26, a native of Edina, Minnesota, comes to the K-Wings this season following a two-season stint playing for the Manglerund Star in Norway.
In 72 games with the Stars, VanVoorhis scored 11 goals and added 34 assists. In 11 playoff games, he assisted on six goals.
“I’m excited to get out to Kalamazoo and get the season started,” said VanVoorhis in a statement released by the team. “It’s been a long off-season and I look forward to puck drop on opening night in front of all the fans.”
The K-Wings also signed former Western Michigan University hockey player Matt Iacopelli.
Iacopelli, 25, will be starting this third season of professional hockey. Iacopelli has split this time between the AHL and ECHL the past two seasons playing for Rockford IceHogs of the AHL and the Indy Fuel and Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL.
Born in Woodhaven, MI, Iacopelli was drafted in the third round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks and signed his first pro-contract during the 2016-17 season, following his sophomore season at WMU.
“I’m excited to be back on the west side of the state,” said Iacopelli in a press release. “I already know what the city has to offer, having played two years here at Western Michigan, and I’m really ready to contribute to and represent the K-Wings this season.”
The K-Wings will host the Toledo Walleye for a preseason matchup at Wings Event Center on Friday, October 4th. Tickets are $5 with the game beginning at 7 pm.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen