Thursday, August 16, 2007

K-Wings bring back Karlander, add goalie

The Kalamazoo Wings signed forward Kory Karlander and goaltender Brad Smith today.

Building off an average of 84 points over the past two seasons, Karlander is set to return for his fourth straight season and fifth overall with the K-Wings. The 12-year pro is the only current member of the K-Wings that can make claim of representing the K-Wings the last time they played under the IHL umbrella (1999-00).

Assistant captain the past two seasons and member of the K-Wings 2005-06 Colonial Cup championship team, Karlander made Kalamazoo’s final season in the United Hockey League a memorable one. The native of Melita, Manitoba shattered the franchise’s UHL record for goals in a single season netting 45 to surpass Jim Duhart, who established the record during the 1999-00 season, when the franchise was located in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Not only is Kory a top goal scorer in our league, he is also one of the top centers when it comes to winning face-offs," said Kalamazoo GM Wade Welsh. “Kory is committed to being a K-Wing. He had opportunities overseas, but his first choice was always to return to Kalamazoo.”

A consistent performer during the 2006-07 campaign, Karlander was one of five K-Wings selected to the starting lineup for the 2006 UHL All-Star Game. Karlander rung in the New Year going on an 11-game goal and point streak. The goal streak was both a season high for the K-Wings and UHL.

Stellar play in the regular season earned Karlander the K-Wings’ KOHA Plus/Minus (+20), Keyser Insurance Agency Leading Scorer (88) and Otten Trophies Star of Game (7) awards. Karlander’s postseason accolades were not limited to team honors. The veteran, who led all UHL players in goals scored (45) was selected to the UHL’s All-Star First Team.

Karlander’s regular season success carried over in last year’s playoffs where he went on a K-Wings’ and UHL playoff high 10-game point streak and in the process set the K-Wings’ UHL franchise record for points (33) in a playoff career.

In addition to playing in North America, Karlander 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, he 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.

Kalamazoo acquired the rights for Smith during the Dispersal Draft in June. The signing of Smith makes him the first goaltender signed for the upcoming season.

After commencing last season in the CHL with the New Mexico Scorpions, Smith finished his first season in professional hockey in the UHL splitting time with both Port Huron and Quad City. Smith allowed 44 goals in 13 games with both the Flags and the Mallards.

“Brad has the potential to be a good rookie goaltender in the new IHL,” said Welsh. “We expect him to come to camp, work hard and solidify our back-up goaltender position for the upcoming season.”

Though the 2007-08 season will be Smith’s second, the native of Detroit is considered a rookie under IHL rules, which states a goaltender shall have rookie status if he has logged less than 3,600 minutes between the pipes.

Smith, who played two years of NCAA hockey with the University of Connecticut, still holds the Huskies’ school record for saves in a single-game by stopping 52 of 53 shots en route to a 4-1 victory for UConn over Sacred Heart during the 2006 Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinals.

Smith's top pro performance occurred with New Mexico as he recorded 45 saves last November 1 to lead the Scorpions to a 2-1 victory over the Youngstown Steelhounds.

The addition of Karlander and Smith gives the K-Wings a dozen players signed for the upcoming 2007-08 season.


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