Thursday, August 03, 2006

K-Zoo, Fury, Flags announce signings galore

Three of the four Michigan UHL teams have been in the news recently for various player signings for the upcoming 2006-2007 season.



The Wings inked their first players of the year in defensemen Adam Elzinga, Nick Toneys and Joe Markusen (Michigan State) as well as team captain Nick Bootland and fan favorite Tyler Willis.

"Adam had an outstanding season and we will be expecting more from him this season," said Kalamazoo GM Paul Pickard. "He gives us size and experience at the blue line."

Elzinga also gives Kalamazoo dependability at defense, as he was just one of four K-Wings to play in every game last year.

This season will be Toneys first full season as a professional. Before joining the K-Wings during their Colonial Cup run, Toneys had another championship run of his own. The defenseman was a member St. Norbert College, which was a runner-up in last year's Division III Frozen Four.

"Nick has a lot of potential," said Pickard. "In his short time with us, he showed us why he had success at the collegiate level and I am sure he will continue to have success at this level."

"Joe is a solid all around defenseman," Pickard said. "He has a great work ethic and does what it takes for his team to win."

Bootland, who signed a two-year contract with Kalamazoo last season, restructured his contract to fit the guidelines of the new UHL salary cap.

Willis signed a two-year deal.

Last season was a memorable year for the veteran forward. Known for his physical play, the K-Wings UHL all-time leader in penalty minutes (954) showed a scoring touch by tallying a career best in points (66), goals (20) and assists (46).

"Over the past three seasons, Willis has found a home in our community," Pickard said. "In fact, Willis' love for the city has grown to the point where he is looking to purchase a house."


Two Michigan natives will be joining the Muskegon defense corps as Joe Pomaranski (Plymouth) and Josh Chase (Big Rapids) are on board for this season as well as tough forward Ryan Barnes.

Pomaranski will be starting his second full pro season with the Fury, though he still will retain his rookie status since he played only 40 games during the 2005-06 UHL season.

"Joe is a unique player in that he provides excellent versatility for us at both the defense and forward positions," Fury head coach Todd Nelson said. "Last season, we felt that he was really starting to come into his own until he suffered a broken thumb. However, through the valuable experience that he gained last season, he has become a very solid player. Joe possesses those intangibles that are so important in winning. He has strong character, is an outstanding team man and one of our real good guys in our dressing room. We are happy to have him back with us."

Chase played in the playoffs last year with the now-defunct Danbury Trashers after a four-year collegiate career with Bentley College.

"This year, there is a much greater importance being placed on signing good rookies to the roster," noted Nelson. "In Josh, the experience he gained in the playoffs with Danbury should serve him especially well and that should work as a benefit for our club. When he did play against us in the playoffs, he showed to be a quick skater with good moves. What he lacks in size he will undoubtedly make up for with his desire, drive and determination; all great assets to have. We believe that Josh has the ability to contribute to our success in the upcoming season."

Barnes, a second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1998, played in two games with the Red Wings in 2003-2004. This will be his seventh pro season.

"Certainly we are very excited to have Ryan join our hockey club," Nelson said. "He brings to us a tremendous amount experience, having played in the NHL with the Red Wings as well as for a number of years in the AHL. His contributions to our team will be many and significant. He is an outstanding two-way player who will also produce offense at this level and thrive as an excellent penalty-killer. Ryan plays with a lot of grit and will provide the Fury with strong leadership qualities. His presence in the locker room also will be an asset to us in building strength of chemistry with the team and in the dressing room."

Muskegon now has eight players under contract for 2006-2007.


Port Huron signed goaltender Dustin Traylen for the 2006-07 season.

"Dustin is a second year goaltender who will be classified as a rookie for us," Flags' head coach Stan Drulia said. "We’re looking to him to have a great season and lead us down the stretch."

Traylen, 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, split time among leagues last year, including time in the AHL with the Providence Bruins. The majority of last season was spent with the ECHL’s Trenton Titans, where Traylen racked up 12 wins.

Ironically, Traylen played his first professional game against the Flags. During 2005-06, he started for Danbury, a game that ended in a shootout, with the 5-4 victory going to the Flags.

"It was a tough start," said Traylen. "I was looking for an opportunity to play this year, coming out of the ECHL. Stan called and was able to offer me a real chance to show my stuff. I’m excited about Port Huron, because I’m ready to be part of a team that has a winning attitude."


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