K-Wings add pair of forwards

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Wings, ECHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, have signed rookie forwards Ben Warda and Luc Gerdes to contracts for the 2017-18 season.

Warda, 30, has spent most of his professional career overseas, competing a majority of his first four pro seasons in the German Oberliga (third tier). Last year with Peiting EC, Warda appeared in 11 games and posted 11 points (2g-9a) and 33 penalty minutes during an injury-shortened run.

Though he’s been a pro since 2013, Warda is a rookie by ECHL standards. He has played four career games in the ECHL with Evansville (2014-15) and 16 games with Peoria (2014-15) in the Southern Professional Hockey League. In 120 career professional games across all leagues, the native of Lake Orion, Mich. has scored 132 points (49g-83a).

Before turning pro, Warda skated in 33 games with Michigan State University in 2008-09 before missing the following season due to NCAA transfer rules. In 2010, he arrived at Western Michigan University, where he spent the next three seasons. In 74 games with the Broncos, he earned 24 points (9g-15a) and was a member of Western Michigan’s 2012 CCHA championship team.

Gerdes, 24, joins Kalamazoo after four seasons with Colorado College. The 6-foot, 171-pound forward was second on the Tigers with 18 points (6g-12a) in 36 games played last year, and was the team’s alternate captain. He was also a four-time member of the NCHC All-Academic Team. He totaled 51 career points (18g-33a) in 118 career NCAA games.

A native of Eden Prarie, Minn., Gerdes spent three seasons in the North American Hockey League with Topeka and Jamestown, and played in one game with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League before attending Colorado College. While in the junior ranks, he scored 70 points (38g-32a) over the course of 101 career games.