Photo: Central Hockey League
The Quad City Mallards have signed forward Kevin Baker, the Mallards announced today.
Baker, 35, scored 34 goals- tied for third most in the Central Hockey League- and totaled 64 points in 65 games with the Arizona Sundogs last season. The Kingston, Ontario native also finished fifth in the CHL in power play goals (11) last year. He went on to score five more goals and tack on nine points in 11 playoff games while pushing the Sundogs to an opening round upset of top-seeded Missouri and a berth in the semi-finals.
“When Arizona and Denver players became available, Kevin was one guy I really wanted to get,” said Mallards coach and general manager Terry Ruskowski. “He’s not just a good player, he’s also a good person, someone who can provide leadership for our younger guys. He’s someone we can count on to come through when the chips are down.”
The 6’ 1, 192-pound Baker joins the Mallards for his eleventh professional season having produced 276 goals and 327 assists for 603 points in 686 career games. Along the way, Baker was named 2008-09 ECHL Most Valuable Player and 2005-06 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Player of the Year and twice (in 2006-07 and 2008-09) made the All-ECHL First Team.
Baker has scored 30 or more goals in back-to-back seasons and rung up 27 or more each of the last three years. In all, he has found the net 30 or more times in a campaign on five occasions and scored at least 27 goals in six of his last seven seasons in North America.
Baker, who was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the seventh round of the 1999 National Hockey League Entry Draft with the one hundred ninety-third overall choice, has played 83 American Hockey League games over the course of his career. He has scored 21 goals and posted 37 points while wearing the colors of the AHL’s Lowell Lock Monsters, Saint John Flames, Milwaukee Admirals, Toronto Marlies, Rochester Americans and Albany River Rats.
Baker reached the 30-goal plateau in 2012-13 while suiting up for three teams in two leagues. He played a total of 50 games in the ECHL for the Orlando Solar Bears and Evansville Icemen, registering 22 goals and 39 points before piling up eight goals and 14 points in just 10 games with the Sundogs down the home stretch of the campaign.
In 2011-12, Baker scored 27 goals and produced 56 points in 68 games for the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. He headed back across the Atlantic to join the Thunder after an Italian excursion that saw him score 15 goals and put up 36 points in 39 games with Ritten Renon in 2010-11.
Baker’s ECHL MVP season was his most prolific- he led the league in goals (57) and points (102) while helping the Florida Everblades to first place overall in the first of his two campaigns with the club. That first overall regular season finish was the second in as many seasons for Baker. In 2007-08, he helped propel the Texas Wildcatters to a tie for the ECHL’s top spot by scoring 29 goals and recording 56 points in only 44 games following his return from Germany, where he had started the campaign with Schwenningen ERC. It was with the Wildcatters that Baker had made an explosive return to the pro ranks in 2006-07 after a three year hiatus spent at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Baker finished 2006-07 tied for fifth in the ECHL in goals (36) and points (81).
Baker was just as successful in the university ranks, scoring 58 goals and notching 103 points in 77 career games for Acadia and winning the Sullivan Trophy as national player of the year in his final season as an Axeman. He led the nation in goals (24) and finished tied for fifth in points (40) in 2004-05 and finished tied for first nationally in points (47) and second in goals (24) the following season. Baker helped power Acadia to back-to-back Atlantic University Sport regular season titles in 2005 and 2006 and the conference playoff crown in 2005. He was named to the 2005-06 All-Canadian first team after earning second team honors in 2004-05 and was also selected to the AUS first all-star team each of those two seasons.
Baker already had two seasons of pro hockey under his belt when he arrived at Acadia. He broke in with the AHL’s Lock Monsters in 2000-01, scoring six goals and totaling 11 points in 26 games. He spent the bulk of the following year with the American League’s Flames, scoring 13 times and racking up 20 points in 46 games with time out to score six goals and accumulate 16 points in 18 ECHL games with the Johnstown Chiefs.
Baker turned pro after three junior seasons with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. He scored 93 goals and picked up 182 points in 191 career OHL games. In 1998-99 he finished tied for eighth in the OHL with 44 goals and pocketed a total of 81 points in 68 games.
The Mallards will open their eighteenth season on home ice Friday, October 24 at 7:05 p.m. against the Rapid City Rush. 2014-15 Mallards season tickets are now on sale. Ticket packages are available to meet almost any budget. A limited edition season ticket holder Mallard jersey, 12 additional ticket vouchers per seat and free parking are among a host of exclusive benefits available to season ticket holders. For more season ticket information fans can call the Mallards’ business office at 309-277-1364.