In another sign that the hockey season is right around the corner, training camp got underway yesterday at Wings Event Center for the Kalamazoo Wings.
Several more players have been added to the training camp roster.
Rookie forwards Zane Jones and Adam Dauda will be getting a chance to impress the K-Wings coaches as the team hits the ice this week.
Dauda, 24, wrapped up his collegiate career at Colgate University this past March, where he was a two-time member of the ECAC Hockey Conference All-Academic Team.
“One of the moments that stands out to me from my time at Colgate actually happened here in Kalamazoo when we played against Wester Michigan (University),” Dauda said. “At the time they were ranked top 5 in the country and we played a great game against them. I just remember having a lot of fun playing that game.”
Another memory Dauda has was playing in the first-ever game played at the new Class of 1965 Arena in Hamilton, NY, home of Colgate University. The new arena replaced the Starr Arena which was built in 1959.
Before graduating this past spring, Dauda spent a little time playing in the ECHL with the eventual Kelly Cup Champions, the Newfoundland Growlers, appearing in five games with the team.
After graduation, Dauda traveled to Australia, where he joined the AIHL Sydney Bears. Joining the team mid-season, Dauda made an impact in his 14 games by putting 29 points on the board (16 goals, 13 assists). The Bears went on to win the Goodall Cup championship this season.
“The main things that drew me to Australia was the fact that I’d be able to play competitive games during the summer,” Dauda said.
After getting a taste of ECHL hockey this past season, Dauda said he knew that he wanted to come back for more.
“It was a great experience to win the AIHL championship. I always had the intention to come back to the U.S. and play in the ECHL after my season was over in Australia,” Dauda said. “Talking to Coach Bootland is essentially what brought me to Kalamazoo specifically. He was very upfront with me about the team and got me excited about coming to Kalamazoo.”
In addition to the work he has been putting in to improve his game, Dauda said that he hopes fans will see him score a lot of goals this season.
“I’ve worked a lot on playing a complete, 200-foot game, Dauda said. “Also, winning face-offs was one of my strengths at Colgate so hopefully I can continue that here in Kalamazoo.”
Jones, 25, spent last season playing with Visby/Roma, a Swedish college team. In 33 games, Jones had 17 points (11 goals and 6 assists) and 83 penalty minutes.
“I’m thrilled to have signed with Kalamazoo for the upcoming season,” said Jones in a statement released by the team. “After a call with Head Coach Nick Bootland talking about the organization, expectations, and goals for the season, I knew I wanted to be a Wing.”
Jones is the nephew of Toronto Maples Leafs and Calgary Flames legend Lanny McDonald.
Former K-Wings and WMU Bronco, Justin Kovacs is marking his return to Kalamazoo this season. During his senior year at WMU, Kovacs joined the K-Wings for eight games and then signed with the team the next year.
In addition to Kalamazoo, Kovacs played for the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL before heading overseas to play for HK Nitra in Slovakia. Last season, Kovacs played for the Nottingham Panthers where he scored 43 points ( 13 goals and 30 assists) in 53 games.
“My family and I are very happy to be back in Kalamazoo,” said Kovacsin a statement released by the team. “It’s a great organization surrounded by great people, and it was an easy decision. I can’t wait to get back on the ice with some of the guys I have played with before, and I hope to help the K-Wings have a strong year and make a run in the playoffs.”
Two players from last year’s squad have also come back for this season; defenseman Tyler Ganly and forward Luke Sandler.
Ganly, 24, returns to the K-Wings after playing in 48 games last season. During that time, Ganly scored 12 points (4 goals and 8 assists) before he endured a season-ending injury.
“I’m excited for the new season,” said Ganly in a statement released by the team. “I started to play some of my best hockey toward the end of last season, gaining confidence from the coaches. Unfortunately, it was cut short due to injury. This season I’m coming in with confidence wanting to help our team win a championship.”
Sandler, 26, is back for his first full season in Kalamazoo after being traded to the K-Wings early last season from the Atlanta Gladiators.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this great organization again this year,” said Sandler said in a statement. “The environment in Kalamazoo is the best in the league, and that’s the kind of environment you want to be in and the type of organization you want to play for. With key pieces coming back and the addition of some great pickups, it is crazy how good we can be and how far we can go.”
The K-Wings will hit the ice this Friday night at Wings Event Center for a 7 pm preseason game against the Toledo Walleye. All tickets are just $5.
By: Mark C. McGlothlen