Memphis RiverKings Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Kevin McClelland announced today that center Travis Banga has re-signed for the 2006-2007 season. Banga, who will be entering his third season, led the team with 34 goals and was second on the squad with 73 points.
â€œI have really enjoyed playing in Memphis the last two seasons and I am looking forward to helping the team get back to the playoffs,â€ Banga said. â€œThe fans have been great and I think that Mac (Coach McClelland) has the team going in the right direction.â€
The coach is glad to have his leading goal producer returning.
â€œTravis did a lot for our hockey club last season,â€ McClelland said. â€œHe is the kind of young player and quality person, both on and off the ice, that you can build your team around.â€
In his two seasons in a RiverKings sweater, Banga has played in 105 games, scoring 58 goals and assisting on 74. Last season, he finished strong with the best month of his career; 20 points on eight goals and 12 assists in March. He scored goals in five of the last six games of the season to run his total to 34. He had four two-goal games and led the team with five short handed goals.
The fact that he led the team in goals was nice, but the teamâ€™s overall record last season was a big disappointment.
â€œPersonally, I was pretty much satisfied, although it could have been better,â€ he said. â€œTeam-wise, I thought we had more talent than what our record indicated, so the record at the end of the season was very disappointing. I am looking forward to being a part of the turn-around next season.â€
The High River, Alberta native has put together two excellent seasons since the team signed him early in the 2004-2005 season after being waived by Kansas City in the UHL. In his rookie campaign, Banga led all rookies in points per game (1.44) and was second in overall rookie scoring (59 pts).
After his successful rookie campaign of 2004-2005, Banga was disappointed that he didnâ€™t draw any AHL interest prior to last season. That chance may be coming this season.
â€œMy agent and coach McClelland are working on an AHL try-out for me,â€ Banga said. â€œWe have it down to about four possible AHL camps that I might be able to attend. I am really looking forward to the opportunity.â€
Prior to his pro career, Banga played collegiately at Division III New England College for three seasons following one season at Division I University of New Hampshire. At NEC, he scored 64 goals and had 128 points in 70 games. His stellar junior career included a BCHL scoring title and team championship with the Chilliwack Chiefs; and the runner up for Canadian Junior Player of the Year in 2000.
Banga joins defenseman Derek Landmesser as players signed for the 2006-2007 RiverKings hockey season.