KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A West Michigan hockey team is getting ready for its 47th season after canceling last year's due to COVID-19.
Saturday will be the first time the Kalamazoo Wings will have fans in their arena since March of 2020.
Many of the players said they're most excited to be back playing the game they love with fans to cheer them on in the stands.
"Bring some excitement and fun. Hopefully it's loud and fun. We want it to be fun here. If we win, it's fun, so hopefully we can do that for you guys," said Kalamazoo Wings Forward Tanner Sorenson.
The 2021/2022 regular season will begin against the Toledo Walleye at the Wings Event Center on Saturday.
While some players headed to other teams to play last year, Tanner Sorenson took the year off. Like other teammates, he was very ready to be back.
"Me personally, I didn’t know what to do with my days especially once winter came. It's like wow, it was my first winter since I was three without hockey so just getting into new hobbies, new routine, new jobs. It was kinda refreshing and it was nice to see you still missed the game, and you're still ready and hungry to play so that was nice to see," said Sorenson.
"There's a lot of jitters you know, first time mistakes obviously you know, you play that first game you'll be gripping the stick too hard, not seeing the ice as well but you know, over time and practice those things kind of come back it's like muscle memory," said Kalamazoo Wings Forward Justin Taylor.
The K-Wings will host their annual fan fest ahead of their home opener with live music, food, drinks and other activities that will begin at 4:30 p.m.
Fans are encouraged to wear masks inside the arena but they are not required.
"We really hope people are just as excited as we are to come back and, and sort of get together that's what we’re about right? It's a community feel, you get to come to an arena you get to high five, someone you don't know when we score a goal, you get to cheer together, and to put some smile on people's faces, and, you know, when it when it was the negative and it went away for a year, you know, it's tough to swallow and tough to understand, but really, this is gonna make us want more here in Kalamazoo, and I hope the fans feel the same way," said Kalamazoo Wings Head Coach Nick Bootland.
Doors to the Wings Event Center will open at 6 p.m. and puck drop is at 7 p.m.
If you're interested in purchasing tickets, click here.