Thursday, September 13, 2007

K-Zoo adds three, two players retire

The Kalamazoo Wings announced the signings of goaltenders Tony Quesada and Jeremy Symington and forward Daniel Calitri this week.

After spending his first-year of professional hockey in Texas , mainly with the Houston Aeros (AHL) and Austin IceBats (CHL), Quesada is ready to call Kalamazoo home for the 2007-08 season.

“We (K-Wings) have had success finding young standout goaltenders and we believe Quesada will follow in that same mold,” said Kalamazoo GM Wade Welsh. “He has proven himself at the colligate level and given some time between the pipes he will have the same success as a pro.”

While Quesada did play a season of pro hockey last year, under IHL rules he still meets the minutes played criteria to be considered a rookie for the upcoming season.

Making the most of his time in the American Hockey League, Quesada earned his lone AHL win with a dazzling 41-save performance to preserve a 1-0 shutout for Houston on April 7 against the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.

Before turning pro, the native of South Freeport, Maine, was a four-year standout at Holy Cross College. During his time with the Crusaders, Quesada went 61-33-8 with a 2.50 goals-against average, including his senior campaign, where the netminder amassed a record of 22-6-2 and earned team co-MVP honors. Quesada holds five of the Crusaders’ six goaltending records – wins (61), save percentage (.915), GAA (2.50), games played (105) and minutes (6,034).

During the 2005-06 season, Quesada helped the Crusaders to one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, making 35 saves in a 4-3 overtime win over Minnesota . The victory made NCAA history, proclaiming the Crusaders as the first No. 4 seed to ever upset the top seed. The victory was also the first-ever for Holy Cross in its NCAA Tournament history.

Selected by the New York Islanders in the eighth round (196th overall selection) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Symington split last season in the CHL in both Rio Grande Valley and Youngstown.

A two-time CHL All-Star goaltender, Symington has been part of two goaltending tandems that have led their clubs to its league’s finals (Elmira 2002-03, Laredo 2004-05).

“He has had the knack of helping his team in the playoffs and we found it essential to have a goaltender with playoff experience,” said Welsh. “With three goaltenders in camp (Quesada, Symington and Brad Smith) we expect a spirited battle for the two jobs available.”

Symington is 82-73-23 with nine shutouts in his professional career. He played five games in the AHL with the Binghamton Senators during the 2002-03 season going 3-1-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

His college hockey was played at St. Lawrence University, where he posted a career mark of 23-16-0.

Entering his inaugural season of professional hockey, Calitri played the past three years in the OPJHL, including the past two seasons with the Oakville Blades.

“He has a great motor and plays with a lot of heart and energy,” said Welsh. “Calitri also brings the ability to play the role of an agitator.”

In 97 games in the OPJHL, Calitri tallied 93 points (45 goals, 48 assists) and 274 minutes in penalties.

The K-Wings also announced the retirement of defensemen Jeff Brown and Adam Elzinga. While signing contracts earlier this off-season, both players notified the K-Wings that they are leaving the organization to pursue interests outside the sport of hockey.

“Jeff notified us during our coaching search that he had an opportunity outside of hockey that was too good to pass up for both him and his family,” said Welsh. “Adam told us before Labor Day that he was going to hang up the skates. We wish both Jeff and Adam the best in their future endeavors.”

The addition of Quesada, Symington and Calitri gives the K-Wings 13 players signed for the upcoming 2007-08 season.


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