‘Excited!’ Kalamazoo Wings Reveal Schedule; Hockey Is Back in Oct
That's the word Kalamazoo Wings team governor Toni Will used to describe the feeling as the team announced their 2021-2022 ECHL schedule Tuesday afternoon on Facebook Live. Coach Nick Bootland summed it up as "so close, yet so far."
Will alluded to a feeling many in Michigan and the world have of being ready to leave home and get back to work at the office, or in this case, the rink.
The K-Wings' schedule for the team's 47th season comes exactly 14th months after COVID shut down the league. Bootland says he's ready for the grind to begin again. "It's a fun grind."
The season opener and home opener will be Saturday, October 23rd against the Toledo Walleye. Bootland saying after some 500 days off, there will definitely be "a nervous energy" heading into the opener.
Following Opening Night, the K-Wings host the Cincinnati Cyclones for the traditional Halloween Orange Ice game, and Will promises if the Friday night game sells a lot of tickets, it will become an Orange Ice Weekend, the following night against long time rival, the Fort Wayne Komets.
In addition to the colored ice games, Will says the team plans to bring back $2 Hot Dog, $2 Beer nights, which have been popular with fans.
The K-Wings will host New Years' Eve on December 31st with a game against Tulsa. Pink Ice is set for February 11th, 2022. The St. Patrick's Green Ice games are set for March 18th and 19th. The team also says they will be retiring two more player numbers, on Fan Appreciation Night, to join Kevin Schamehorn and George Gagnon.
The ECHL is also welcoming an expansion franchise, in Coralville, Iowa. The so-far nameless team will be run by former ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna. Will, in the schedule announcement, hinted at the possibility of Iowa being in the same division as Kalamazoo, but nothing has been announced so far with five months still go before the first puck drop.
Another question yet to be answered is about affiliation. When asked about the status of that affiliations, the team said "If the affiliation with Vancouver is renewed (it was a two-year contract that ends this summer), that would mean the K-Wings would be tied to Vancouver and Abbotsford."