Wednesday, August 15, 2007

K-Zoo brings back Drake, Versteeg-Lytwyn

The Kalamazoo Wings announced the signings of forwards Lucas Drake and Mark Versteeg-Lytwyn on Monday.

Known for scoring the most important goal in K-Wings’ UHL history, a game five Colonial Cup clinching overtime tally during the 2006 playoffs, Drake is one of the most popular
K-Wings in recent time.

The upcoming season will be Drake’s fifth as a professional and third in Kalamazoo. After hoisting the Colonial Cup to cap off the 2005-06 season, Drake started last year in the ECHL with the Columbia Inferno.

In mid-December, Drake returned to Kalamazoo and made an immediate impact, recording a hat trick in his Wings Stadium season debut versus the Fort Wayne Komets. The goal sparked an offensive explosion for Drake, who then went on a ten-game point streak.

“He (Drake) brings a lot of intangibles to our lineup,” said Wings GM Wade Welsh. “Over the past two seasons, Lucas has been one of our most consistent performers, especially in critical games.”

Drake’s heroics have been noticed by the fans, as the forward received the K-Wings’ Kalsee Credit Union Unsung Hero Award during each of his two seasons in Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo has been a second home for the Holt native. Besides two years with the K-Wings, Drake played four seasons of collegiate hockey for the Western Michigan University Broncos (2000-2004), registering 55 points in 149 games.

Another returnee from 2006-07 K-Wings, Versteeg-Lytwyn was the youngest player (20 years old) in the UHL last season.

Youth didn’t hinder Versteeg-Lytwyn’s growth as a player, as the forward notched 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) during his rookie campaign, with 18 of those points occurring in the second half of the season. Highlighting his first-year was a four-point night on January 26 at Wings Stadium, where he recorded his first professional hat trick and added an assist against the Elmira Jackals.

As a result of Versteeg-Lytwyn improvements during the season, he received the K-Wings’ 2006-07 Meijer Most Improved Player Award.

“Mark is the type of player that will do whatever it takes to be successful,” said Welsh. “As last season went on, his confidence increased and so did his development. With a year under his belt, we (K-Wings) believe he will continue to grow as a player.”

Before turning pro last season, the native of Sharon, Ontario spent the past four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. A majority of Versteeg-Lytwyn’s amateur success came with the Guelph Storm, where he helped his team to win the OHL championship ('03-04).

The addition of Drake and Versteeg-Lytwyn gives the K-Wings 10 players signed for the upcoming 2007-08 season.


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