KALAMAZOO, MI – Kalamazoo Wings, proud ECHL daughter of the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets, and head coach Nick Bootland announced the club’s first three signings for 2021-22 on Wednesday.
The K-Wings signed Matheson Iacopelli, Tanner Sorenson and Justin Taylor, a trio of impact strikers who starred on the 2019-20 team when Kalamazoo was last on the ice.
“These three players are a huge part of our core and it was a priority to sign them this summer,” said Bootland.
The 27-year-old Iacopelli is heading into his fourth professional season and runner-up at K-Wings as a dynamic striker, who finished the 2019-20 season with 22 points in his last 20 games. The Brownstown, Michigan native scored 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in a total of 41 games this season, including nine power play points and four winning the game. A 2014 Chicago Blackhawks third round draft pick Iacopelli spent two seasons at Western Michigan University before turning pro in 2016.
“I’m really excited to be back in Kalamazoo for the coming season and doing what I love most,” said Iacopelli. “I know it was a long year without K-Wings ice hockey and I bet everyone itches to be back at the Wings Event Center and cheer us on.”
“Iacopelli is a high-end skater with an enormous shot,” said Bootland. “He’s a mixed scorer and we need him to start the year the way he ended his last.”
Sorenson, 28, is returning to Kalamazoo after scoring 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in 30 games in 2019-20. The Anchorage, Alaska native also appeared in 12 AHL games for the Utica Comets that season, recording two assists. In five professional seasons, Sorenson has played 219 ECHL games (216 with Kalamazoo), 12 AHL games and 53 games abroad in Kazakhstan and Switzerland. He previously spent four seasons at Michigan State University from 2011 to 2015.
“Since our last game, I’ve spent two months in Wisconsin, two months in Alaska, and last year back in Kalamazoo,” said Sorenson. “I couldn’t be more excited that October 23rd is coming here. I know the fans are eager to return to the Wings Event Center. “
“Tanner is a dynamic skater and has the ability to generate offensive himself,” said Bootland. “He makes the players around him better.”
Taylor, 32, spent the 2020-21 season with the Tulsa Oilers after the K-Wings were eliminated from the season due to the pandemic. The experienced striker collected 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists) in 62 games for the Oilers. In 2019-20, Taylor scored 39 points (20 goals, 19 assists) in 49 games for Kalamazoo, including 10 power play points and five goals won by the team with the best games. Born in Mindemoya, Ontario, he has played 652 ECHL games and 25 AHL games over the course of his career.
“I’m happy to be in red and blue again,” said Taylor. “I missed the fans, the arena and the city. I am very proud to be able to wear the Kalamazoo Wings sweater for as long as I have it. I am proud to be able to call Kalamazoo home and proud to be K-Wing again. Let’s bring the Kelly Cup home. “
“Justin is a player who plays big minutes for us and has played against other teams’ top lines in this league for years,” said Bootland.
Taylor goes into his 12th professional season and 11th in Kalamazoo as a franchise record holder for games played (542). He’s also third all-time in goals (213) and fifth in points (403).
The K-Wings open the 2021-22 season on Saturday, October 23rd at 7 p.m. against the Toledo Walleye in the Wings Event Center.
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