KALAMAZOO, MI—The Kalamazoo Wings, proud ECHL affiliates of the Vancouver Canucks, have signed rookie forwards Ben Warda and Luc Gerdes to standard professional contracts, the team announced Thursday.
Warda, 30, has spent most of his professional career overseas, competing a majority of his first four pro seasons in the German Oberliga (third tier). Last year with Peiting EC, Warda appeared in eleven games and posted two goals, nine assists, and 33 penalty minutes during an injury-shortened run.
Though he’s been a pro since 2013, Warda is a rookie by ECHL standards. He has played four career games in the ECHL with Evansville (2014-15) and 16 games with Peoria (2014-15) in the SPHL. In 120 career professional games across all leagues, the native of Lake Orion, Michigan, has scored 49 career goals and added 83 assists.
Before turning pro, Warda skated in 33 games with Michigan State University in 2008-09 before missing the following season due to NCAA transfer rules. In 2010, he arrived at Western Michigan University, where he spent the next three seasons. In 74 games with the Broncos, he earned nine goals and 15 assists, and was a member of Western Michigan’s 2012 CCHA Championship winning team.
Gerdes, 24, joins Kalamazoo after four seasons with Colorado College (NCHC). The 6-foot, 171-pound forward was second on the Tigers with 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 36 games played last year, and was the team’s assistant captain. He was also a four-time member of the NCHC All-Academic Team. He totaled 51 career points (18 goals, 33 assists) in 118 career NCAA games.
A native of Eden Prarie, Minnesota, Gerdes spent three seasons in the NAHL with Topeka and Jamestown, and played in one game with the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) before attending Colorado College. While in the junior ranks, he scored 38 goals and notched 32 assists over the course of 101 career games.
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Wings Event Center, owned and operated by Greenleaf Hospitality Group, is home to the Kalamazoo Wings professional hockey team and a full entertainment venue offering concerts, sporting events, family shows and trade shows. Built in 1974, Wings Event Center values partnerships with the community to bring events and attractions that enrich the lives of residents in the Kalamazoo area.