KALAMAZOO, Mich.— Former Adrian College NCAA men's hockey standout Chris Leone (Dearborn Heights) joined the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday, the proud East Coast Hockey League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning have announced. Leone joins fellow defenseman Adam Phillips out of NCAA Division I UMASS-Amherst, who also was signed before the weekend, to bolster the club's blue line with standard ECHL contracts for the 2016-17 season.
Leone, 24, will suit up with the Wings for his first full season of professional hockey this winter. He made his professional debut against Kalamazoo in April of 2016 as a member of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. The 5-foot-11 D-man registered a goal and three assists with Greenville in four games played last year, after helping the Adrian Bulldogs to a 24-4-1 record and No. 4 national ranking.
“Chris wanted to return to Kalamazoo, and we are happy to have him,” K-Wings head coach Nick Bootland said. “He played part of his junior career here, and I got to watch him battle first hand while he was captaining the Junior K-Wings. He is going to make a great addition to our blue line.”
Before turning pro, Leone played three years in the North American Hockey league, including one with the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings, where he wore the ‘C’ and registered 28 points in 59 games during the 2011-12 season. After completing his junior career, he played four years at Adrian College, and won back-to-back Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Harris Cup championships (2015-16). Leone’s performance during his senior season in 2016 earned him a spot on the CCM American Hockey Coaches Association All-America First Team, D3hockey.com All-America Second Team, and NCHA Championship MVP honors.
The Bulldogs' former alternate captain received a degree in business management, with a minor in economics.
The 2016-17 edition of the Kalamazoo Wings host their 43rd annual home opener on Friday, October 21, as they entertain the Fort Wayne Komets at the Wings Event Center. The entire season schedule can be found at www.kwings.com, following the progress of Leone.