KALAMAZOO, MI – The Kalamazoo Wings are in the market for a new assistant coach as Sam Ftorek is leaving the K-Wings to become the head coach of the Roanoke Rail Yard Dogs of the SPHL.
Ftorek became the assistant coach of the K-Wings this past season after retiring from playing, which he did for 17 years.
The native of Phoenix, Arizona, played in eight leagues and five countries. Ftorek spent six seasons with the K-Wings as a skater from 2009-15 and is at or near the top of most offensive categories in the Kalamazoo Wings’ seven-year history in the ECHL. Ftorek ranks first in games played (402), points (269), and assists (198), while ranking second in the team’s ECHL history in penalty minutes (338) and third in goals (71). Ftorek also holds the record for most career games played in ECHL history with 837.
“We wish Sam the best of luck moving forward. His passion for the game and attention to detail are sure to give him success in his first head coaching job,” K-Wings head coach Nick Bootland said.
“Sam, his wife Misty, and their three kids have been great members of the Kalamazoo community for seven years,” Bootland added. “He was a consummate ambassador for the city and the team. We’re very thankful for his time spent here.”
While the team that Ftorek will be coaching is new, the area is no stranger to the world of hockey. The Roanoke Express played in the ECHL from 1993-2004. After ceasing operations at the end of the 2004 season, Roanoke was once again reunited with pro hockey in the form of the Roanoke Valley Vipers, who played one year in the United Hockey League during the 2005-06 season.
The Rail Yard Dawgs are the first pro hockey team in the area since 2006, and the team is slated to play at the Berglund Center, a 10,600 seat arena built in 1971.
“With us being an expansion team, everything has to be done the right way. We’re confident that everything, even the small details, will be done correctly with Sam, and that’s going to get us off to a phenomenal start,” Rail Yard Dawgs vice president Mickey Gray said.
“This is a family community,” Gray added. “The Ftoreks are going to fit in real well in Roanoke.”