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2022-23 K-WINGS PRESEASON PREVIEW

Friday, October 14th
2022-23 K-WINGS PRESEASON PREVIEW

2022-23 K-WINGS PRESEASON PREVIEW

Kalamazoo's Chris Cadeau breaks down the offseason and preseason roster.

By Chris Cadeau - K-Wings.com

KALAMAZOO, MI - When we closed the book on the 2021-22 season, no one could have predicted the amount of changes that were on the horizon for the Kalamazoo Wings Hockey Club. 

And to say that last season’s finish didn’t sit well with Nick Bootland and Joel Martin is an understatement. Usually, coaching staffs take a good bit of time to themselves before starting on the next season’s plan. Nick and Joel started immediately. 

The two charted a course within days of the season ending. But most importantly, they went out and executed. 

Then Nick Bootland got a call that changed his trajectory with the organization on a Friday in early August. He was offered and accepted a position as an assistant coach with the Hershey Bears. Martin was then hired to fill the role and it was full steam ahead. 

It’s no secret that names like Tanner Sorenson, Kyle Blaney, Andrew DeBrincat, Cody Corbett, and others were pillars to the success Kalamazoo’s enjoyed in the past. But to build off of last season, every phase of the team needed to improve.

So, this year’s team was hand picked to be bigger, faster, meaner and ready to go to war every night. The goal was simple; score a bunch of goals, protect the net and never get pushed around again. 

To do that, the first order of business was locking down the most feared player in the ECHL and one of the greatest K-Wings’ of all-time in Anthony Collins and Justin Taylor. 

Then stack strong signing after strong signing, and that’s exactly what they did.

Kalamazoo went out and signed all-star defenseman Joe Masonius and forward Shaw Boomhower. Then acquired forward Brandon Saigeon. Soon after, they reacquired goaltender Trevor Gorsuch, and forwards Matheson Iacopelli, Logan Lambdin & Max Humitz. 

The K-Wings continued to pull in hot prospects and young pros, whose size and production fit the plan. Yet, size alone doesn’t guarantee wins. We all know that it always comes down to execution. 

Nonetheless, I got curious and dove into the rosters. The 2021-22 K-Wings averaged just over 5-foot 11-inches and 190-pounds, while the 2022-23 preseason roster for the K-Wings touts an average of 6-foot 3-inches and 195-pounds.

So, while it’s impossible to predict how the first year of Joel Martin’s tenure will turn out, it’s easy to see that he’s surrounded himself with elite talent and formed a team that resembles the same determined grit that he played with during his Hall of Fame career. 

Enough of my talk, you’re going to hear enough of me throughout the season. Below is a short breakdown on the entire Kalamazoo Wings preseason roster to help you prepare for the K-Wings journey to the Kelly Cup. 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. If you haven’t secured your tickets to the preseason game tonight. Tap HERE to lock in yours now. Also, the home opener is next Saturday, Oct. 22 versus Indy. We need everyone’s help to start the season off right. Click HERE to secure your Home Opener Ticket Pack and witness the start of the 48th season of Kalamazoo Wings Hockey. 

* Player Numbers subject to change

GOALTENDERS

#35 Trevor Gorsuch | 6-2, 212 lbs | 2nd Pro Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Gorsuch is looking to build on a strong finish to 2021-22. The Western Michigan product ended last season with a 23-24 record after stepping into the starting role when Jet Greaves departed for Cleveland. There were ups and downs, but Gorsuch was the top goaltender in the ECHL from March 4 until the last week of the season, going 11-5 down the stretch with a 2.49 GAA and a .929 save percentage. Trevor would finish the year with an ECHL ranking of No.1 in saves (1420), No. 2 in minutes (2,815) and tied for No. 2 in wins. Make no mistake, Trevor is hungry to make a statement this season.

#31 Hunter Vorva | 5’11, 165 lbs | Rookie Season | Professional Tryout Contract

There’s a good chance that you’ll see Hunter Vorva at some point this season, especially if there’s the usual jostling throughout the professional goaltender ranks. It’s also pretty impressive that this Kalamazoo native, who’s known Joel Martin since he was a kid, was the SPHL’s Goaltender of the Year last season for Huntsville. He’s also never had a season from Juniors on up with a save percentage below .900. He’s the definition of a gamer who’s had a pretty good camp. Fans should be excited to get a look at one of Kalamazoo’s own suiting up at Wings Event Center.

FORWARDS

#7 Logan Lambdin | 5-8, 181 lbs | 2nd Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

The former Michigan State Spartan put the ECHL on notice last season, leading the K-Wings in goals (27) and finished his rookie season with 50 points. He also finished No. 5 among all ECHL rookies in goal scoring, and was Top-20 in that department across the League (T-No. 19). What the coaching staff loves about Logan is his skating ability, how he paces the game and that he’s able to be utilized on both sides of the special teams. With the influx of size in the lineup, Lambdin should improve off of his 2021-22 campaign. 

#8 Coale Norris | 6-2, 201 lbs | Rookie Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Norris is another gritty player signed to this K-Wings team out of the state of Michigan. Coale played four years at Ferris State University, earning the ‘C’ in his senior season with the team. Norris then decided to head to Bowling Green for his fifth year option, and tied a career best in goals with 10 in 33 games played. He’s yet another player on this Kalamazoo roster that fits the mold of exactly what Joel Martin was looking for…big, strong, high hockey IQ and extremely good character. 

#9 Mason McCarty | 5-10, 185 lbs | Rookie Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

McCarty is a player that the coaching staff has high expectations for, and is expected to figure into a bunch of secondary scoring this season. He’s not the biggest in stature, but plays an extremely gritty game. He got his first taste (15G) of ECHL hockey in 2018-19 for Rapid City prior to heading to Acadia University, and he made the most of his opportunity, scoring six goals with four assists in limited action. Not to mention, he had a 74 point season with Red Deer (WHL) in 2017-18 prior to his call up. He’s definitely a guy that will finish checks and is not afraid to lay the lumber in the corners. 

#10 Raymond Brice | 6-1, 205 lbs | 2nd Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

The former Michigan Tech captain is primed to make a big splash this season, and build upon his 18 point (11G, 7A) rookie output. He’s a reliable two-way forward who’s motor creates opportunities. He’s the guy that you’ll always see coming full bore into the corners to collect and protect pucks. Brice is another player who should benefit from the size and skill upgrades on this roster, which in turn will let him do what he does best. And that's to chip it in and go bang a body.

#15 Shaw Boomhower | 5-10, 185 lbs | 4th Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Shaw Boomhower will be a player that’s on fan favorite alert from the start. He’s a physical presence who loves to finish checks, and doesn’t take crap from anyone. He can play on the top line, he can play on the third line and he can chip in offensively. Honestly, this is a player that the K-Wings were sick of playing against, so they went out and got him from Wheeling. Last season, Boomhower played a career high 31 games, scoring five goals and assisting on eight others with 127 penalty minutes. 

#17 Brandon Saigeon | 6-1, 190 lbs | 3rd Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Saigeon is a highly motivated player, who could have taken his school package if he wanted, but he still has high aspirations to play at the next level and in the NHL. And for good reason. This is a player who tallied 63 points a few seasons ago with Hamilton (OHL), and 70 points the year prior on his way to the OHL Championship series. In his two previous seasons in the ECHL (Utah, Wheeling), he’s had to deal with a couple setbacks that could correlate to the offensive production slip, but he’s healthy and ready to rock with a full offseason of healthy training. Saigeon fills a vital open center position for the K-Wings. He also possesses two-way ability and is outstanding at faceoffs.

#18 Bair Gendunov | 6-2, 190 lbs | Rookie Season (2nd Professional) | ECHL Standard Playing Contract

In 21 games of professional action in 2021-22, split between Huntsville (SPHL) & Cincinnati (ECHL), Gendunov scored 8 points (5G, 3A). He’s had a pretty impressive camp thus far, and has shown that he can use not just size, but skill to create scoring chances. He’s a player whose knack for scoring goals could establish him as an everyday player in the near future. His junior career was also outstanding, as Gendunov tallied 180 points in 135 games in the MJAHL, amassing a career-high in goals (35) and assists (37) in 52 games played in 2019-20. 

#21 Max Humitz | 5-8, 168 lbs | 2nd Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Hummer is one of the most skilled offensive players on the roster, and he’s motivated to put last season in the rearview. Humitz’s 24 points (13G, 11A) in 45 games played were huge in 2021-22, but the former Lake Superior State captain battled through an injury and multiple callups. This player possesses elite skill, scoring capability, vision, and has a great motor that allows him to play big in the tough areas. He’s a player that will be playing at the next level if his production meets his standards and the coaching staff’s expectations.

#25 Tanner Nagel | 6-0, 209 | Rookie Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Tanner Nagel earned his ECHL contract based on his performance with the K-Wings down the stretch last season. Nagel made an immediate physical impact when the K-Wings needed it most, and was always found on the ice after practice working to get better. He plays a straight line physical game, and definitely knows how to put the work in as a professional. If there is a role to be filled this season, you can bet that Tanner Nagel will be up to the task.

#38 Daniel D’Amico | 5-10, 190 lbs | Rookie Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

A late edition to the K-Wings training camp roster, but one of the most solid signings of the offseason. When looking for talent that doesn’t have pro experience yet, an obvious great sign is if the player can tear it up on the score sheet. And that’s what D’Amico did for Windsor (OHL) last season. His 58 points (32G, 26A) in the regular season last year was just a precursor to an absolute assault in the OHL playoffs, leading the Spitfires to the OHL Championship series scoring 21 points (11G, 10A) in 25 playoff games. He possesses high hockey IQ, and could be a standout rookie if he continues to improve in the professional ranks.

#44 Matheson Iacopelli | 6-2, 200 lbs | 5th Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Matheson is the No. 1 scoring threat at all times on this roster. He brings NHL skill, shot and stick handling. He put a ton of work in this offseason to improve on his defensive play, and is expected to make a ton of noise this season. When Iacopelli is hot, there isn’t a goaltender in the ECHL that can stifle his knack for the net. This is a player who could rise quickly through the ranks, if productive, as a former NHL prospect for the Blackhawks.

#48 Anthony Collins | 6-4, 216 | 11th Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Kalamazoo is exactly where Anthony Collins wanted to play this season. He got a small taste of the organization at the end of last season, and said that he knew immediately that he wanted to re-sign here. Dubbed the toughest man in the ECHL for his enforcer abilities, Collins brings intangibles to the ice and locker room that form a list too long to rattle off here. One encouraging sign heading into this season was how hard he worked at home, putting in a tremendous offseason. So, don’t be surprised if you see Anthony lighting up the score sheet a little more, while keeping other teams in check.

#73 Darby Llewellyn | 6-0, 190 lbs |6th Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Llewellyn plays a gritty game, and his strength is getting under opponents skin to create opportunities. He has shown offensive capability at every level, and is yet another player that could benefit from the size improvement on this team. His best season in the ECHL came as a rookie in 2017-18 with Atlanta, scoring 30 points (17 G, 13 A) in 66 games played.

#88 Danny Vanderwiel | 5-11, 201 lbs | Rookie Season | Professional Tryout Contract

Vanderwiel’s a gritty forward/defenseman that seemingly came out of nowhere. He played in the OHL from 2011-15 for the Plymouth Whalers with respectable numbers, and then he disappeared from hockey until last year when he suited up for Binghamton (FPHL) and impressed, scoring six goals with 12 assists in just 21 games played. He’s versatile, has a ton of speed and is just getting going in camp. Time will tell if this talent makes the team. 

#89 Tommy Stang | 5-11, 174 | 2nd Professional Season | Professional Tryout Contract

Tommy Stang is a player with a ton of speed and has a great shot. Stang’s also had a strong camp thus far, and he has potential to see the ice in situations when the K-Wings need centerman depth. He played 37 games last season with Quad City (SPHL), scoring 13 goals and 14 assists with 48 penalty minutes. What was really eye popping about his stat line from last season was his plus-16 plus/minus.

#93 Justin Taylor | 5-11, 180 lbs | 13th Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Justin’s contributions to this organization have been immense over the past 12 seasons in a K-Wings uniform. He comes into the season just two goals shy of tying Kevin Shamehorn and Mike Wanchuk for the K-Wings all-time goal scoring mark, and 17 points shy of tying Shamehorn’s all-time points mark. Last season’s captain is someone who brings leadership to the locker room and can score goals in any situation. He’s a vital asset to coach Joel Martin, having played with him and for him throughout the years. The influx of size on the roster is sure to free up Taylor, who finished last season ranked No. 2 in the ECHL for power play goals (11).

DEFENSEMEN

#2 Ryan Cook | 6-3, 220 lbs | 2nd Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Cook was acquired in the back half of the 2021-22 season from Adirondack and made an immediate impact, scoring on his lone goal with the K-Wings on his first shot and shift against Fort Wayne. Cook also had to work his way into the lineup last season, which says a lot about his poise and team first mentality. A consistent two-way defenseman through and through, expect Cook to log minutes on special teams and utilize his booming right handed shot to give goaltenders fits this season. 

#3 Olivier LeBlanc | 6-0, 172 lbs | 2nd Professional Season | AHL Contract

LeBlanc never really had the opportunity to get comfortable in a K-Wings jersey last season due to being needed in Cleveland. No one knows what the crystal ball shows in regards to just how long he’ll stay in Kalamazoo, but the 2014 7th-Round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets is fired up and ready to make an impact. Despite only notching one goal in 19 games played with the K-Wings last season, he has serious skill on the offensive end when aggressive, and is cool, calm and collected when distributing the puck. 

#4 Anthony Florentino | 6-0, 207 lbs | 6th Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Florentino is a guy that you look at and go, “That’s a gritty hockey player.” He comes to Kalamazoo from Atlanta, and is one of three defenders who’s over 6 feet tall with a right hand shot. Florentino brings years of experience to a loaded back end, and he knows how to win. Anthony won a National Championship with Providence in 2015, and was drafted in the 5th-Round of the 2013 NHL Draft by Buffalo. 

#5 Chad Nychuk | 6-1, 194 lbs | Rookie Season | AHL Contract (Loaned by Abbotsford)

Chad Nychuk is the real deal holyfield, and the team is excited to add him to an already stacked backend. Nychuk looks to have flown under the radar due to the pandemic shortened season happening just as he was ready to take the next step. Last season, Nychuck exploded for the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), scoring 71 points (21G, 50A). Yeah, you read that right. Nychuck scored more goals than any other defensemen in the WHL, and finished the year at the plus-26 mark. Look for Chad to have an immediate impact on any line. 

#6 Jeremey Masella | 6-5, 214 lbs | Rookie Season (2nd) | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Masella came to work out of college after being signed last year in January. In fact, he was on the ice working to get better after every practice last season. Masella’s a good young defenseman with great size and reach, which helped him immensely in his 20 games played last season. He’s also a strong puck mover that skates well. There’s a lot of upside to his game that he’s looking to showcase this season. 

#11 Tyler Rockwell | 5-8, 175 lbs | 2nd Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Here’s a guy who’s always had to work for it, and he earned his shot after last season’s training camp. Rockwell at times was the team’s best defenseman last season, and that’s what earned him the K-Wings ‘Unsung Hero’ award at season’s end. He’s a good puck mover, and always seems to have a great first pass out of the defensive zone. If you’re worried about size, don’t, because this young man is deceptive and knows how to use his stature to his advantage. He showed up to camp lean and mean this season and is ready to improve on his 15 point offensive production from a year ago. 

#12 Josh Victor | 6-4, 212 | 4th Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Victor is a player with exactly what the K-Wings were looking for in the offseason, physicality and size. In 29 games of action last season for Wheeling, Victor made the most of his opportunities with a -2 rating and 34 penalty minutes. This is a player whose offensive production could see an uptick, based on opportunity and system as he only notched an assist last season. Definitely a player that brings some jam on the ice.

#20 Joe Masonius | 6-0, 190 lbs | 4th Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Masonius is one of the biggest free agent signings for the K-Wings this offseason. He suited up for both Adirondack and Fort Wayne last season, and earned a trip to the ECHL All-Star Game for his efforts. He also amassed a career high with 28 points (6G, 22A) with nine multipoint games in 2021-22. This is also a man that’s not to be messed with in the physical department. Expect to see him on special teams, and bet that he’s going to get mucky in the corners if you know what I mean.

#23 Collin Saccoman | 6-1, 196 lbs | Rookie Season (2nd) | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Saccoman was one of the K-Wings top defensemen prior to his season ending lower-body injury at the midway point of last season. He’s back, he’s healthy and he’s motivated. The coaching staff is motivated about Collin as well, as they believe that he will pick up right where he left off. Collin also played his way into an everyday player as a first-year, and he’s expected to be a staple on the back end again this season.

#24 Justin Murray | 6-0, 190 lbs | 3rd Professional Season | ECHL Standard Player Contract

Justin brings a physical game and he can play in all situations. For a player who started out not a part of the power play, he ended the season quarterbacking it. Murray finished the 2021-22 season with 31 points (6G, 25A), and earned the K-Wings ‘Defenseman of the Year’ honor. This is a player that came into his own last season, and having strong options to pair with him this season bodes well for the K-Wings defensive corps.

PLAYERS RELEASED

F   Zak Currie

D  Michael Klintworth

F   Gianni Vitali

D  Jarrad Vroman

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The Kalamazoo Wings are a professional hockey team located in southwest Michigan that has been a staple in the Kalamazoo, MI professional sports landscape since 1974. The K-Wings compete in the ECHL and are the AA affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets and American Hockey League’s Cleveland Monsters. Kalamazoo plays their 36 regular season home games at Wings Event Center from October through April.

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