With the regular season just 15 days away, the Kalamazoo Wings are putting the finishing touches on their training camp roster.
Two familiar faces are returning to the K-Wings: Darren Archibald and Brett Ponich.
Archibald, 25, is set to skate in his fifth season of professional hockey as he returns to the K-Wings for the first time since 2012-13. The native of Newmarket, Ontario has spent the last four seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. His career includes 67 games in the ECHL with Kalamazoo, 204 games in the AHL with Chicago and Utica, and 16 games in the NHL with the Canucks.
“Darren was a fan favorite when he was here,” K-Wings head coach Nick Bootland said. “His game has improved tremendously. He’s got great size, strength, and one-on-one skill.”
Archibald was signed by the Canucks organization as an undrafted free agent in 2010 while playing with Niagara in the OHL. The 6-foot-3 forward has attended camps with the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Vancouver Canucks.
“The experience that Arch has gained in the NHL will be of value to all our players,” Bootland added. “He plays the game with great enthusiasm, and we want to help him get back to the NHL.”
Archibald scored nearly a point per game during his time in the OHL from 2008-11 (174 points in 186 games), and made his pro debut with the Chicago Wolves (AHL) in 2011. During his periodic stints with Kalamazoo from 2011-13, he tallied 58 points in 67 games.
Ponich, 24, also gears up for his fifth season of professional hockey in 2015. Having skated in 66 games over two seasons with the K-Wings from 2013-15, the defenseman is no stranger to Kalamazoo. A 2009 draft pick of the St. Louis Blues (round two, pick 48), Ponich has logged time with six different teams since 2011.
“Brett has great leadership qualities, Bootland said. “His massive frame and active stick make him a great shut-down defenseman.”
Before turning pro, the native of Beaumont, Alberta spent five seasons with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL from 2006-11. His professional debut came in 2011 with the Peoria Rivermen (AHL), and his five-year career has seen stops in Peoria, Evansville (ECHL), Alaska (ECHL), Chicago (AHL), Kalamazoo (ECHL), and Springfield (AHL).
“Brett’s a tough player that’s going to stick up for his teammates,” Bootland added. “He does a great job taking away time and space from his opponents and he possesses a solid first pass.”
With the addition of Archibald and Ponich, the K-Wings’ roster features 16 games of NHL experience and five NHL draft picks.
The K-Wings also signed Erik Higby, Cory Pritz, and Tyler Shattock.
Higby, 26 years old, joins Kalamazoo for his first full season of professional hockey. At the conclusion of his four year career at Northern Michigan University (CCHA/WCHA) last year, the 5-foot-9 forward appeared in 18 games for the Alaska Aces, where he notched nine points.
Pritz enters Kalamazoo’s training camp with a shot to crack his first pro roster. The 5-foot-10 defenseman spent the last five seasons with the University of Calgary in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. A two-time CWUAA all-star, the 27-year-old racked up 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 21 games with the Dinos last season.
Shattock, 25 years old, enters his sixth season of professional hockey. A 2009 draft pick of the St. Louis Blues (round four, pick 108), Shattock began his pro career in 2010 with the American Hockey League’s Peoria Rivermen. With 258 career AHL games under his belt, Shattock brings experience, toughness, and a scoring touch around the goal.
The K-Wings 42nd season of hockey kicks off on October 16th.
Submitted by: Mark C. McGlothlen