Kalamazoo, MI- The Kalamazoo Wings, proud member of the ECHL, two-time defending North Division Champions and reigning Eastern Conference Champions and affiliate of the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders and American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, announce the signings of forwards Trent Daavettila (daav-UH-till-la), Kory Karlander, Justin Taylor and defenseman Sam Ftorke (fuh-TOR-ick); per team policy, the terms of the contracts will be undisclosed.
Returning to Kalamazoo for his third full season with the K-Wings, Daavettila tied for the team-lead in scoring last season with 80 points (32 goals, 48 assists).
The native of Howell, Michigan continued his scoring prowess in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, recording a league-high 28 points, which includes a league-best 22 assists.
Named to the ECHL’s All Second-Team, Daavettila tied for the league-lead in plus/minus with a robust plus-28.
“He (Daavettila) has established himself as one of the best two-way players in the entire ECHL,” said Nick Bootland, director of hockey operations and head coach. “Trent had an outstanding regular season last year and raised his game to a higher level in the playoffs and we expect him to continue to grow as a player.”
The second half of the K-Wings dynamic scoring duo is also slated to return with the signing of Karlander. Like Daavettila, Karlander recorded 80 points (34 goals, 46 assists) to share the team-lead in scoring. The elder statesmen of the ECHL was named to the league’s All First-Team.
No stranger to Wings Stadium, Karlander returns to Kalamazoo, where he has played six of his previous 16 professional seasons.
Including last season, Karlander has been an assistant captain with the K-Wings for four seasons, including the 2005-06 season, where Karlander played a pivotal role alongside then captain and current director of hockey operations and head coach, Nick Bootland in guiding the K-Wings to their 2005-06 Colonial Cup championship, the team’s third title in the organization’s history.
“Karlander is a leader on and off the ice,” said Bootland. “He has a great commitment to the game and can help us in all facets out on and off the ice.”
Earning milestones last season recording his 800th career point on February 5th versus the South Carolina Stingrays and his 500th career assist on April 2nd versus the Elmira Jackals, Karlander is closing in on another huge milestone.
Karlander needs only 31 more games to eclipse 1,000 career games in his professional career.
In addition to playing in North America, Kory has also played two seasons of hockey in the British International Super League with the Belfast Giants. While in Belfast during the 2002-03 season, Karlander led the Giants to the league championship. In 29 games, Karlander compiled 22 points in the regular season. During the playoffs, Kory proved to be unstoppable, amassing 24 points in just 18 games to lead his team to the title and earn the league’s post season scoring title.
Karlander has a unique status as the only K-Wings player to represent the organization in every league Kalamazoo has participated in, including the original IHL.
After a strong showing in the Kelly Cup Playoffs capped off a stellar rookie campaign, Taylor returns to Kalamazoo.
Named the K-Wings’ AT&T Rookie of the Year a season ago, Taylor was nearly a point-a-night player registering 46 points (25 goals, 21 assists) in 48 games for Kalamazoo.
In the playoffs, Taylor led all ECHL rookies in scoring with 14 points, including nine goals, which led all ECHL players.
“He (Taylor) showed a lot of grit and scoring touch last season,” said Bootland. “To get to the next level, he will need to be more consistent, but he has shown when we needed a goal he is at his best.”
Taylor also played in 14 games last season in the American Hockey League with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Before turning pro, the former sixth round selection (180th overall) of the Washington Capitals in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, was a member of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Continuing a rich hockey resume, Ftorek returns for his third season with the K-Wings. The 14-year veteran has worn a letter in each of his two seasons in Kalamazoo and helped the K-Wings capture back-to-back North Division titles.
Doing whatever it takes to succeed; Ftorek has seen time at both forward and defense. Starting last season at forward, injuries to the blue line forced Ftorek to the K-Wings back end, where he continued to shine.
For his unselfish efforts, Ftorek was named the K-Wings’ Kalsee Credit Union Unsung Hero.
“Sam has always been a versatile team-first player,” said Bootland. “While we (K-Wings) have him slated as a defenseman, it is always great to have a player that can be productive wherever we need him.”
Ftorek recorded his 500th career point last season on December 6th against the South Carolina Stingrays on a shorthanded goal. Just over a month later, Ftorek recorded his 300th career assist on January 29th versus the Gwinnett Gladiators.
Stepping up his game in the playoffs, Ftorek led all ECHL defensemen in playoff scoring in points (21), goals (7) and assists (14).
A staple in the ECHL, Ftorek has spent half of his career in the Premiere ‘AA’ Hockey League.
Coming from an excellent pedigree, Ftorek is the son of Robbie Ftorek, who played eight seasons in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings (2), Quebec Nordiques (3) and New York Rangers (3). The elder Ftorek also possesses an impressive coaching resume with 21 years experience, 10 of which was in the NHL.
Season tickets for the upcoming 2011-2012 season are on sale at the Wings Stadium Ticket Office. Ticket Office hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information about tickets, give the Wings Stadium Ticket Office a call during regular business hours at (269) 345-5101.
For more information about the signing of Trent Daavettila, Sam Ftorek, Kory Karlander and Justin Taylor, please contact Mike Modugno, director of public relations and broadcaster at (269) 349-9772, extension 220.