PRESEASON 2019.20

Nailers Announce 2019-20 Roster & Captains
Saracino to Wear the "C", While Brown & Powell Serve as Alternates

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are pleased to announce their roster and captains for the 2019-20 season. The roster consists of 23 players - 13 forwards, seven defensemen, and three goaltenders.

Friday began with the selections of the team captains. The captain is forward Nick Saracino, who wears the "C" for the second straight season in Wheeling. Saracino amassed 37 points in 27 games with the Nailers last year, before joining the AHL's Binghamton Devils after the holidays. One of the alternate captains is forward Cam Brown, who returns for his third season in Wheeling, after racking up 90 points in his first 90 career games as a Nailer. Another alternate captain is forward Myles Powell. This is Powell's first season in Wheeling and second as a pro, after being named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team with Cincinnati last year.

Joining those three players at forward are two of last year's top three scorers - Yushiroh Hirano and Renars Krastenbergs, who combined to rack up 38 goals and 101 points in their rookie campaigns. A few other returning faces up front include Alec Butcher (12 goals in 36 games), Lucas Kohls (1 goal in 5 games), and Brad Drobot (70 penalty minutes in 43 games). There are also some new exciting names that fans should watch for, including former Pittsburgh Penguins Draft Pick Jan Drozg, Brandon Hawkins, who scored five goals in two preseason games, second-year forward Ryan Scarfo, rookie Christopher Brown, and third-year pro Willy Smith.

On defense, Macoy Erkamps and Blake Siebenaler are the two most experienced players, as both begin their fourth professional seasons, with both having played over 80 games in the AHL. Aaron Titcomb and Craig Skudalski both return after solid rookie campaigns, while Jake Schultz and Jack Macnee both spent time in Wheeling during the latter part of the year. There is also one brand new face on the blueline, as the Nailers acquired Steve Johnson from the South Carolina Stingrays in exchange for future considerations. Johnson split his ECHL time with Reading and South Carolina last season, while also getting a taste of the AHL with the Hershey Bears.

Between the pipes, Wheeling gets things started with three netminders. Jordan Ruby returns to the team, after leading last year's squad with 12 victories. He will be joined by Andrew D'Agostini, who has won 27 games in his ECHL career, in addition to Pittsburgh Penguins signee Alex D'Orio, who begins his pro career after three seasons in the QMJHL.

Mike Bavis returns for his second season as head coach, and will be joined by Gene Reilly, who begins his first season with the Nailers. Wheeling native Bill Higgins enters his 17th season as the club's equipment manager, and will be joined by fellow Wheeling native Daniel Barker, who begins his career as athletic trainer. DJ Abisalih is on the call for his ninth season as the Voice of the Nailers, starting with Saturday's opening game in Cincinnati.

WesBanco Arena is a go for the Nailers season opener

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Following the recent announcement that WesBanco Arena has to replace their ice-making equipment, crews are working hard behind the scenes to ensure the arena is ready in time for the Wheeling Nailers season opener.

We’re a go for the 19th. We plan to be playing hockey and hosting the Wheeling Nailers as they begin their season on the 19th of October.

DOUG CAMPBELL, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE GREATER WHEELING SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT AUTHORITY

Crews have taken down the glass on the floor and dasher boards are being raised two inches.

Arena officials say the facility is still open to walkers who will get a behind-the-scenes look at the work being completed.

Obviously, they’re not gonna be permitted on the floor while we’re working. But if they want to walk the inner core of the arena and see how things are going and take a look at how they’re putting this thing together, I think it’ll be fascinating.

DOUG CAMPBELL, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE GREATER WHEELING SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT AUTHORITY

While crews work steady to prepare the arena before the Nailers season-opener, there are many other events being rescheduled.

The Bishop Michael Curry event will be moving to the Capitol Theatre. All the tickets that you have for the Wesbanco Arena event are transferable to the Capitol Theatre.

SONYA M. FEDORKO, MARKETING AND ADVERTISING MANAGER

However, some events remain in limbo, such as the Shrine Circus, which is set for October 14.

This is the first time we’ve ever had to experience a portable ice rink or anything like that. The fact that St. Matthews moved their event to the Capitol is just one stepping stone to helping us get this figured out a lot sooner. And being able to have this ice company come in and retrofit and help us out with this portable ice rink. But the circus, I don’t know!

Nailers Receive D'Orio & Scarfo from Penguins
Wheeling's Training Camp Roster Grows to 28, Including Ten Players Signed by Affiliate

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced two transactions, which both take effect immediately. Wheeling has received goaltender Alex D'Orio and forward Ryan Scarfo from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

D'Orio, 20, begins his first full season of professional hockey, as he was signed to an NHL contract by Pittsburgh. He made his pro debut last April with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, after finishing his junior career in the QMJHL. Alex won a President Cup Championship during his rookie year with the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2016-17, while compiling a 19-2-1 record, a 2.40 goals against average, and a .903 save percentage. Over the course of the next two years, the Sherbrooke, Quebec native was one of the busiest netminders in the Q, finishing first in saves in 2017-18, then fifth in saves last season, splitting 2018-19 between Saint John and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

Scarfo, 25, enters his second season in the Penguins organization, after being acquired last year in an AHL trade with the Belleville Senators. Ryan has registered three goals and 11 points in 44 career AHL games, in addition to one goal and two points in ten ECHL contests with the Brampton Beast. Prior to turning pro, the Boston, Massachusetts native attended Union College, where he amassed 88 points in 151 games, while majoring in Economics.

With the additions of D'Orio, Scarfo, forward Cam Brown, and defensemen Matt Harrington and Jake Schultz, Wheeling's training camp roster now stands at 28 players.

Nailers Sign Cam Brown
Fan Favorite Forward has Compiled 90 Points in 90 Career Games with Wheeling

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce that they have signed forward Cam Brown to an ECHL contract.

Brown, 26, is set to begin his third full season of pro hockey, as he returns to Wheeling. Cam split last season between the Nailers and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, exploding for 37 points in 35 games with Wheeling, before adding six points in 30 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Natick, Massachusetts native had his best stretch of play in December, when he racked 29 points during a 13-game point streak. That performance earned him two ECHL Player of the Week honors, in addition to ECHL Player of the Month.

With 90 points in 90 games as a Nailer, Brown is the team's active leader in both categories, and he is the lone player on the roster with at least two prior seasons in Wheeling. Cam's career totals between the AHL and ECHL are 31 goals, 74 assists, and 105 points in 143 games. Brown played college hockey at the University of Maine, where he majored in Business Management.

Nailers Announce 2019 Training Camp Roster & Schedule
23 Players Will Begin Practicing Tuesday, Including 11 Familiar Faces

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their 2019 training camp roster. The roster consists of 23 players  - 13 forwards, six defensemen, and four goalies.

The 2019 edition of Wheeling Nailers Training Camp has a lot of familiarity to it, as 11 of the 23 players have worn a Wheeling uniform in a previous season. Seven of the remaining 12 have appeared in games at either the AHL or ECHL level.

Two of last season's top three scorers return to Wheeling, as forwards Yushiroh Hirano and Renars Krastenbergs both signed AHL contracts with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Hirano and Krastenbergs combined to rack up 38 goals and 101 points during their first full seasons of professional hockey in North America. Nick Saracino finished the 2018-19 campaign with the AHL's Binghamton Devils, but returns to the Nailers, after collecting 37 points in 27 games during the first half of the year. Alec Butcher is another dynamic returning player for the offense, as he tallied 12 goals and 19 points in 36 games, after joining the club in January, while Lucas Kohls made a quick impression, scoring in his pro debut. Keeping the ice safe for these players will be veteran Brad Drobot, who brings physicality and leadership to the lineup.

Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton have a large impact on the preseason roster, as eight players are under either an NHL or AHL contract, including Hirano and Krastenbergs. One of those players is forward Myles Powell, who was a member of the 2018-19 ECHL All-Rookie Team, after pouring in 31 goals, 35 assists, and 66 points in 57 games with the Brabham Cup Champion Cincinnati Cyclones. Former Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick Jan Drozg makes the jump to the pro game this season with Wheeling, and will be joined by fellow rookie forwards Christopher Brown and Brandon Hawkins, who both found the scoresheet in a few games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last spring.

On the blueline, fan favorite and community star Aaron Titcomb returns for his second pro season, while Craig Skudalski looks to make even larger strides in his second year as a Nailer. Once again, the AHL Penguins made it a priority to add even more quality players to the mix, as fourth year pros Macoy Erkamps and Blake Siebenaler will both log key minutes. Jack Macnee is also back, after joining the team in the final weeks of last season.

Two of Wheeling's four goaltenders have had prior success in the ECHL. Jordan Ruby played a big role with the 2018-19 team, backstopping the Nailers to 12 victories. He will be joined by Andrew D'Agostini, who has 27 career ECHL wins, including a 13-8-2 mark during the 2016-17 campaign, when he and the Brampton Beast reached the second round of the playoffs.

The six players that round out the training camp roster are forwards Anton Lindstrom, Tommy Munichiello, and Willy Smith, defenseman Lane Valimont, and goaltenders Kevin Entmaa and Rob McGovern.

This year's training camp will begin at Printscape Arena in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. All practices are open to the public, who are asked to remain in the seating area while the team is on the ice. Practices on Tuesday, October 1st and Wednesday, October 2nd will take place from 9:45-11:00 a.m., then practice on Thursday, October 3rd will take place from 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

The Wheeling Nailers will play two preseason games on the road against the Fort Wayne Komets this weekend. Friday's tilt is scheduled for 8:05, followed by Saturday's re-match at 7:35. Wheeling will then open its 28th regular season with a road clash against the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday, October 12th at 7:35. The home opener will be Saturday, October 19th at 7:05 against the Indy Fuel. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley. For information on season tickets, group tickets, partial plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.

2019 Wheeling Nailers Training Camp Roster
F Christopher Brown
F Alec Butcher
G Andrew D'Agostini
F Brad Drobot
F Jan Drozg
G Kevin Entmaa
D Macoy Erkamps
F Brandon Hawkins
F Yushiroh Hirano
F Lucas Kohls
F Renars Krastenbergs
F Anton Lindstrom
D Jack Macnee
G Rob McGovern
F Tommy Munichiello
F Myles Powell
G Jordan Ruby
F Nick Saracino
D Blake Siebenaler
D Craig Skudalski
F Willy Smith
D Aaron Titcomb
D Lane Valimont

2018 Wheeling Nailers Training Camp Schedule
Tuesday, October 1st        9:45 AM      Practice
Wednesday, October 2nd   9:45 AM     Practice
Thursday, October 3rd       11:00 AM    Practice
Friday, October 4th             8:05 PM     Preseason Game at Fort Wayne
Saturday, October 5th         7:35 PM     Preseason Game at Fort Wayne

WILKES BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS TRIM ROSTER TO 28 PLAYERS
Ten skaters have been assigned to the Wheeling Nailers the Penguins ECHL affiliate.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have reduced their training camp roster to 28 players. Ten skaters have been assigned to the Penguins ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers.

Forwards Christopher Brown, Jan Drozg, Brandon Hawkins, Yushiroh Hirano, Renārs Krastenbergs and Myles Powell were among the 10 sent to Wheeling, along with defensemen Macoy Erkamps, Blake Siebenaler, Craig Skudalski and Aaron Titcomb.

Some familiar faces and some new ones will make their way to Wheeling this week. We will announce the training camp roster and schedule tomorrow!

The Penguins have reduced their training camp roster to 28 players: http://www.wbspenguins.com/…/penguins-trim-roster-to-28-pl…/

Nailers, WesBanco Arena Announce Preseason Venue Change
Wheeling Will Now Travel to Fort Wayne for Both Exhibition Contests

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and WesBanco Arena have announced a change to the 2019 preseason schedule, due to a failure of the ice-making system at WesBanco Arena. The game originally slated for Friday, October 4th in Wheeling has been moved to Fort Wayne, with face-off scheduled for 8:05. The Nailers and Komets will now play both of their exhibition matches in Indiana.

When the WesBanco Arena staff began the process of making the ice for the 2019-20 season, a failure in the system occurred. The Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority Board met in an emergency session to look at options. The Board has contacted and is in negotiations to install an ice pad, similar to the systems used in the NHL Winter Classic.

"We have taken all steps to maintain our current system at peak performance levels, knowing that these are complicated mechanical systems," said WesBanco Arena Executive Director Denny Magruder. "We are interviewing leading national companies to install an ice surface. This ice will provide the Wheeling Nailers a first-class surface for the 2019-20 season."

The Nailers players will report to training camp on Monday, September 30th, with the first on-ice session scheduled for Tuesday, October 1st at Printscape Arena in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

"I thank the coaches and ownership from the Fort Wayne Komets for helping us during this transition period," said Nailers Governor Don Rigby. "I also thank the City of Wheeling and the staff and management at WesBanco Arena for their hard work and diligence in quickly assessing and managing the issues at the arena and coming up with a solution."

Nailers Name Gene Reilly as Assistant Coach
Longtime Coach Brings Over 30 Years of Experience to Wheeling

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to welcome Gene Reilly as their new assistant coach.

Reilly, 57, has coached hockey for several years, while also serving as a scout, senior advisor, and director of player development, following his retirement as a player. Gene began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the NEJHL's Springfield Olympics, who promoted him to head coach after two seasons. While in Springfield, Reilly coached his teams to three straight championships, which helped open the door to the NCAA. Gene joined the University of Maine in 1998, where he won his fourth consecutive title, capturing the NCAA National Championship as an assistant coach for Shawn Walsh. Reilly has also spent time in college hockey with Harvard University, Northeastern University, Colorado College, and UMass-Lowell. Professionally, Gene was an assistant coach in the AHL for two seasons with Grand Rapids and Binghamton, while primarily holding that role with HC Salzburg in Austria, where he won the EBEL Championship twice. Most recently, Reilly was the head coach of the USHL's Des Moines Buccaneers, who won their first playoff series since 2007.

"The Nailers organization, the players, and myself as head coach are very fortunate to add a coach of Gene's passion, experience, and depth of knowledge," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "I look forward to seeing his impact on our hockey team throughout the year."

In addition to his National Championship with Walsh at Maine, Reilly has had the opportunity to work alongside other excellent coaches, such as current Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy (Grand Rapids), former Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators Head Coach John Paddock (Binghamton), and two-time Kelly Cup Champion Head Coach Mike Haviland (Colorado College). Notable players that Gene has coached include current Pittsburgh Penguins Assistant General Manager Bill Guerin (Springfield) and current Toronto Maple Leaf Jason Spezza (Binghamton), as well as former Nailers Brad Thiessen (Northeastern University) and Hunter Fejes (Colorado College).

"I've known Mike Bavis for a long time, and he and I share similar values in and out of hockey," Reilly said. "I'm very intrigued to work in the ECHL, and am excited for the challenge of bringing Wheeling its first Kelly Cup."

Nailers Re-Sign Nick Saracino
Former NCAA National Champion was Second in ECHL Scoring, Before Finishing Season in Binghamton

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their seventh player signing of the 2019 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed forward Nick Saracino to an ECHL contract.

Saracino, 27, began last season with the Nailers, after being acquired in a trade from the Worcester Railers. Nick had tremendous success in a Wheeling uniform, as he racked up 17 goals, 20 assists, and 37 points in 27 games. The 37 points ranked him second in the ECHL in late December, before he spent the remainder of the year in the AHL. The St. Louis, Missouri native earned ECHL Plus Performer of the Month honors in December, while being selected as ECHL Player of the Week twice, including a shared honor with linemate Cam Brown. Saracino's best stretch with the Nailers saw him amass 23 points in ten games.

"We are excited to have Nick back, as he is a tremendous leader, and was one of the top scorers in the league when he was recalled to the AHL," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "Nick is a versatile player, who can play any position and with everyone in our lineup."

In addition to his 88 ECHL games between Wheeling and Worcester, Nick has also appeared in 77 AHL contests, suiting up with the Iowa Wild and Binghamton Devils. Last season, Saracino notched six goals, four assists, and ten points in 38 contests with Binghamton. Prior to turning pro, Nick attended Providence College for four years, highlighted by an NCAA National Championship in 2015 - the first in the school's history. With 38 points in 40 games, Saracino was the leading scorer for the Friars during their championship season.

"I'm excited to be a Nailer again and to come back to Wheeling," Saracino said. "Wheeling is one of the most storied teams in the ECHL, and hopefully I can help get them back into the playoffs."

Nailers Trade Lacroix's Rights to Greenville
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Signs Hirano

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced a transaction, which takes effect immediately. Wheeling has traded forward Cedric Lacroix's rights to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in exchange for future considerations.

Lacroix, 24, played his first season of professional hockey with the Nailers in 2018-19, leading the club with 22 goals, while finishing in a tie for fourth with 42 points. Cedric notched his first career point with an assist in Reading on October 28th, before netting his first pro goal in a 5-1 home win against Greenville on November 9th. In addition to his offensive productivity, the Shefford, Quebec native also brought a strong physical game to the table, leading Wheeling with 215 penalty minutes. He was one of two players who recorded a Gordie Howe Hat Trick last season, doing so in an 8-2 triumph at Toledo on January 5th. At the end of the season, Lacroix played in one game with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, scoring two goals.

In a separate transaction, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced that they signed forward Yushiroh Hirano to an AHL contract for the 2019-20 season. Hirano, 23, finished second on the Nailers in scoring last season, tallying 19 goals, 38 assists, and 57 points in 67 games. As the season progressed, Yushiroh's confidence grew, as he became a point-per-game player, accumulating 51 points in his final 52 matches with the team. That performance helped him earn an AHL contract midway through the season, as well as an appearance with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in its regular season finale, when he dished out an assist.

Hirano is one of three players from the 2018-19 Wheeling squad who has signed an AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the upcoming campaign, joining forward Renars Krastenbergs and defenseman Blake Siebenaler

Nailers Re-Sign Aaron Titcomb
Winner of Fan Choice & Community Awards Ecstatic to Return for Second Season in Wheeling

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their sixth player signing of the 2019 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed defenseman Aaron Titcomb to an ECHL contract.

Titcomb, 26, returns for his second season with the Nailers, after totaling one goal, three assists, and four points in 44 games as a rookie. Aaron played a big role in the defensive zone last season, as he was one of the team's leaders in blocked shots, especially during penalty killing situations. The Charlestown, Massachusetts native also made a large impression on the fans, earning both the Community Award and Fan Choice Player Award.

"Aaron is a big, strong, versatile defenseman, who added a lot of composure to his game last season," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "We are looking forward to that showing up even more on the offensive side of the puck this season."

Prior to coming to Wheeling, Titcomb appeared in two games with the Adirondack Thunder at the end of the 2017-18 season, dishing out two assists. Aaron attended Merrimack College for four years, where he majored in Finance, while playing for the Warriors. He collected 14 points in 102 games, while being selected to the Hockey East All-Academic Team all four years, earning Distinguished Scholar status.

"I am very excited to get back into WesBanco Arena and play in front of the best fans in the ECHL," Titcomb said. "Last year was a great experience, but there is still some unfinished business left to take care of going into this year. I am looking forward to getting back and going to work with my brothers."

Nailers Re-Sign Craig Skudalski
Wheeling Adds Strength to Blueline, as 6-Foot-7 Defenseman Returns

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their fifth player signing of the 2019 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed defenseman Craig Skudalski to an ECHL contract.

Skudalski, 24, is coming off his first ECHL season, in which he recorded two goals, six assists, and eight points in 37 games with the Nailers. Craig was a versatile member of the team, as he mixed in some time playing forward, in addition to his traditional defensive role. The Trucksville, Pennsylvania native netted both of his goals against the Indy Fuel, including the game winning strike in a 3-2 triumph on January 12th. Skudalski also posted a +3 rating, which was fourth among defensemen on the club.

"Craig had a really good season, using his size to give us good depth defensively," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "We expect him to return even stronger this season."

Prior to coming to Wheeling, Craig spent parts of two seasons in both the SPHL and FHL, suiting up for Roanoke, Fayetteville, Macon, Danbury, and Danville. Skudalski played the majority of his junior hockey in the USPHL's Premier Division, while also suiting up for his hometown Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League for two years.

"I enjoyed how great the organization was and how they provided us with everything we needed to succeed on and off the ice," Skudalski said. Also, the fans at WesBanco Arena are amazing, so that made it an easy decision for me to want to come back. I am looking forward to starting where we left off at the end of last season and getting over that hump to make the playoffs."

Nailers Re-Sign Brad Drobot
2018-19 Player's Player Award Winner Returns for Second Season in Wheeling

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their third player signing of the 2019 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed forward Brad Drobot to an ECHL contract.

Drobot, 30, is set to begin his sixth professional season and second with the Nailers. Last season, Brad appeared in 43 games, tallying one goal, while finishing fourth on the team with 70 penalty minutes and third on the club with five fighting majors. His lone goal was the game winner in a 6-2 victory at Brampton on February 26th. The Calgary, Alberta native was an extremely popular player among the team and the fans for his ability to protect his teammates, as well as his outgoing personality. Drobot was selected by his peers as the winner of the 2018-19 Player's Player Award.

"Brad was a great team leader, who played his role very well," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "He will be a big part of our culture again this season."

Throughout his career, Brad has found success playing a physical style of hockey, racking up 628 penalty minutes in 229 games. His best season in terms of offensive production came in 2016-17, when he accumulated five goals and 12 points in 51 games for the SPHL's Fayetteville FireAntz. Prior to turning pro, Drobot attended the South Alberta Institute of Technology, where he majored in Engineering, while playing with the Trojans for four years.

"Last year was my first time playing in the ECHL, and the city of Wheeling is amazing," Drobot said. "There's lots of history, the Penguins are a first class organization, and Wheeling is my home away from home. I'm excited to see the fans and get this season started."
 

Nailers Re-Sign Alec Butcher
Rookie Forward Netted 12 Goals After Joining Wheeling in January

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their third player signing of the 2019 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed forward Alec Butcher to an ECHL contract.

Butcher, 25, joined the Nailers at the midway mark of the 2018-19 season, and found success immediately, as he scored in his professional debut - a 3-2 victory over the Indy Fuel on January 12th. Later in January, Alec notched his first career two-goal game against the Brampton Beast. The native of Anchorage, Alaska experienced one of his best stretches in a Wheeling uniform during the middle of February, when he amassed four goals and six points in four games, helping the team to a 3-1-0 record with an overtime goal and a shootout winning goal. Butcher finished his rookie campaign with 12 goals, seven assists, and 19 points in 36 games.

"Alec was a tremendous boost to our offense in the second half of the season," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "He has a high-end stick, and his ability to move his hands and feet at the same time make him a dynamic scorer."

Prior to turning pro, Alec played four seasons of college hockey, starting at Sacred Heart University, then transferring to the University of Alaska-Anchorage for his senior year. Butcher's highest offensive totals came during his sophomore year with the Pioneers (25 points) and his senior year with the Seawolves (eight goals). Alec also played two seasons of junior hockey with the NAHL's Kenai River Brown Bears, in his home state of Alaska.

"I really liked the ownership and the winning mentality that Wheeling has," Butcher said. "Last season, we had some really good guys on the team, and hopefully that will bring some chemistry into this year, as we look to make a run. Personally, I look to keep increasing my pace of play and help make the players around me better."

Nailers Announce 2019 Preseason Schedule
Wheeling Battles Central Division Rival Fort Wayne in Home-and-Home Series

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are pleased to announce their 2019 preseason schedule. The Nailers will face the Fort Wayne Komets in a home-and-home series, starting in Wheeling on Friday, October 4th at 7:05, then shifting to Fort Wayne on Saturday, October 5th at 7:35.

This series ends a five-year run in which Wheeling and Cincinnati collided during the preseason. The last time was 2013, when the Nailers played two games against the Komets, in addition to one game each against Elmira and Reading. Fort Wayne was victorious in both prior exhibition battles, prevailing 4-3 and 6-2. Wheeling has won three of its last four preseason tilts, dating back to 2017.

The Nailers and Komets are two of the most historic teams in the ECHL. Wheeling is beginning its 28th season, which is the longest membership for one city in ECHL history. Fort Wayne is beginning its eight season in the ECHL and 68th season overall. Since the Komets joined the league in 2012, they have faced off against the Nailers 30 times during regular season play, and hold a slight 16-14 advantage. Both clubs recorded four wins in 2018-19. This coming season will also feature eight regular season matches between the two Central Division rivals, with four taking place in each city.
 

Nailers Re-Sign Lucas Kohls
Rookie Forward Scored Key Goal During Professional Debut with Wheeling in March

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their second player signing of the 2019 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed forward Lucas Kohls to an ECHL contract.

Kohls, 25, made his professional debut with the Nailers in the spring, appearing in five games, following the conclusion of his collegiate career. Lucas had a memorable first game in Wheeling, as he netted his first career goal as part of a five-goal rally, which saw the Nailers erase a 4-1 deficit for a 6-4 victory over division rival Fort Wayne. The Forest Lake, Minnesota native also notched a point in his final game of the season, as he dished out an assist against the Indy Fuel on April 6th.

"Lucas has good size, skating, ability, and hands," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "We were excited by what we saw from him at the end of last season, and we expect him to be a key contributor to our team in 2019-20."

Prior to turning pro, Kohls played four seasons of college hockey at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, where he amassed 18 goals, 42 assists, and 60 points in 99 games. Lucas' best season with the Blugolds was his senior year of 2018-19, when he led the team in assists (15) and points (24), while tying for the team lead in goals (9). The 6-foot-3 forward also played two seasons of junior hockey in the NAHL, producing 64 points in 110 contests.

"Wheeling is a good community with a strong history, and I had a great experience there at the end of the season," Kohls said. "Coming in last season gave me the confidence that I'm able to play at this level, and I'm excited to get a full season under my belt, while expanding my role."
 

Nailers Re-Sign Jordan Ruby
Netminder Led Wheeling in Wins, Goals Against Average, and Save Percentage Last Season

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their first player signing of the 2019 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed goaltender Jordan Ruby to an ECHL contract.

Ruby, 28, began last season with the SPHL's Macon Mayhem, before signing with the Nailers in December. After a relief appearance against Fort Wayne on December 7th, Jordan rattled off three straight wins, going 5-1-2 in his next eight decisions. As part of a team with three goaltenders, the Tavistock, Ontario native battled hard for all of his minutes, and in mid-February, one week shined above the rest, as he played four games in five days, stopping 131 shots, helping Wheeling to a 3-1-0 record. Ruby set a career high with 43 saves in the opening tilt that week - a 5-2 triumph over Reading on February 13th. Jordan finished the campaign as the club's leader in wins (12), goals against average (2.87), and save percentage (.911).

"Jordan was a key factor in us competing for a playoff spot right up until the end," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "His athleticism and competitiveness flat out won us games, and we are looking forward to putting him in that role again this coming season."

2019-20 will be the netminder's fourth full season as a pro and third in North America. Ruby has compiled 20 victories in the ECHL, suiting up for Wheeling, South Carolina, Brampton, and Toledo. He has also backstopped 33 victories for two SPHL clubs, while spending one season in France with Brest. Prior to turning pro, Jordan played four seasons of college hockey at R.I.T., where he majored in Psychology.

"The people of Wheeling made my family and me feel right at home, and we really enjoyed that, so Wheeling is the best place for us to be," Ruby said. "I made some good first impressions, then started to gel more with the guys as well as Mike Bavis. I wasn't ready for the year to be done, so I am ready to get back there and get the ball rolling again."

Nailers Announce Season-Ending Roster
Wheeling Lists 19 Players; Teams May Begin Signing Players for 2018-19

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their Season-Ending Roster for the Summer of 2019. The roster consists of 19 players.

The Season-Ending Rosters may include up to 20 players, but cannot include players who did not sign an ECHL contract during the 2018-19 season. From this list, teams are entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight players, by extending a qualifying offer to them by June 30th. No more than four of the eight can be veterans (260 regular season professional hockey games), players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded, and if a player signs a contract prior to June 30th, that team does not have to extend a qualifying offer to said player. If a player does receive a qualifying offer, that offer remains open for acceptance until August 1st.

Teams are now allowed to begin signing players for the 2019-20 season. Each signing must be approved by the ECHL, and will be announced by each respective club, following the approval of the transaction.

The Wheeling Nailers Season-Ending Roster consists of the following players:
F Alec Butcher
F Winston Day Chief
F Brad Drobot
F Mike Fazio
D Dan Fick
D Robbie Hall
F Yushiroh Hirano
F Lucas Kohls
F Cedric Lacroix
F Zac Lynch
F Wade Murphy
G Matt O'Connor
F Mark Petaccio
F Michael Phillips
G Jordan Ruby
F Nick Saracino
D Jake Schultz
D Craig Skudalski
D Aaron Titcomb

Nailers Announce 2019-20 Regular Season Schedule
Wheeling Opens Home Schedule Against Indy Fuel on October 19th

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their schedule for the 2019-20 regular season. The 28th season of professional hockey in Wheeling is mostly comprised of weekends and holidays, with lots of key games against Central Division opponents.

For the third consecutive season, the Nailers will open on the road, but they won't be too far away, as they will visit the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday, October 12th. A quick trip to Fort Wayne the following Friday leads into a two-game home-opening series against the Indy Fuel on Saturday, October 19th and Sunday, October 20th. A heavy dose of divisional opponents out of the gate sets the tone for the remainder of the season, as Wheeling will face its five Central Division foes in 50 of 72 games, led by 12 clashes with the Toledo Walleye.

Home fans will see three teams visit WesBanco Arena for the first time, beginning with the Tulsa Oilers on October 25th. The Kansas City Mavericks are in town for the first time on February 4th, then former Nailers Assistant Coach Riley Armstrong leads his Maine Mariners into the Friendly City on February 28th. Wheeling travels to one new city in 2019-20, as the Rapid City Rush are on the docket for a three-game set December 11th, 13th, and 14th. In total, the Nailers will face 15 different opponents, with 13 of the 15 playing at least one game in West Virginia.

Weekends and holidays have extremely strong influences on the upcoming season's schedule, as 64 of the 72 games fit into those two categories, including 30 of 36 home games. Wheeling will play home games on Thanksgiving Eve (vs. Fort Wayne) and New Year's Eve (vs. Norfolk), while playing morning games at home on November 19th (vs. Cincinnati) and March 10th (vs. Reading). The Nailers will play one morning game on the road (November 6th at Toledo), while also suiting up for road contests on Thanksgiving (at Fort Wayne) and Valentine's Day (at Cincinnati).

December is the month with the most home tilts, as seven of 12 games will take place in Nail City. The busiest month overall is March, as Wheeling will take the ice 15 times. Part of that is a stretch run that sees the Nailers finish the regular season with seven straight weeks of three games in three days. The final home game of the regular season is Friday, April 3rd against Indy, while the last regular season game overall is Sunday, April 5th at Kalamazoo.

Sunday home games will feature new start times, as the puck hits the ice at 4:05. All other home games will begin at 7:05, with the exceptions being New Year's Eve (6:05), Education Days (10:45 a.m.), and February 1st (7:35).

Season memberships are available for the 2019-20 season of Wheeling Nailers Hockey. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley. For information on season tickets, group tickets, partial plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.

2019-20 WHEELING NAILERS OPPONENTS
Toledo Walleye- 12 (5 home, 7 away)
Kalamazoo Wings- 11 (4 home, 7 away)
Cincinnati Cyclones- 10 (5 home, 5 away)
Reading Royals- 9 (5 home, 4 away)
Indy Fuel- 9 (4 home, 5 away)
Fort Wayne Komets- 8 (4 home, 4 away)
Rapid City Rush- 3 (3 away)
Norfolk Admirals- 2 (2 home)
Orlando Solar Bears- 2 (2 home)
Adirondack Thunder- 1 (1 home)
Kansas City Mavericks- 1 (1 home)
Maine Mariners- 1 (1 home)
Tulsa Oilers- 1 (1 home)
Utah Grizzlies- 1 (1 home)
Brampton Beast- 1 (1 away)

2019-20 WHEELING NAILERS SCHEDULE
Sat. Oct. 12 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Fri. Oct. 18 at Fort Wayne, 8:05
Sat. Oct. 19 vs. Indy, 7:05
Sun. Oct. 20 vs. Indy, 4:05
Fri. Oct. 25 vs. Tulsa, 7:05
Sat. Oct. 26 vs. Reading, 7:05
Sat. Nov. 2 at Kalamazoo, 7:00
Wed. Nov. 6 at Toledo, 10:35 a.m.
Fri. Nov. 8 vs. Reading, 7:05
Sat. Nov. 9 at Reading, 7:00
Fri. Nov. 15 vs. Utah, 7:05
Sat. Nov. 16 at Reading, 7:00
Sun. Nov. 17 vs. Fort Wayne, 4:05
Tue. Nov. 19 vs. Cincinnati, 10:45 a.m.
Fri. Nov. 22 at Indy, 7:35
Sat. Nov. 23 at Fort Wayne, 7:35
Wed. Nov. 27 vs. Fort Wayne, 7:05
Thu. Nov. 28 at Fort Wayne, 7:35
Sat. Nov. 30 vs. Kalamazoo, 7:05
Sun. Dec. 1 vs. Toledo, 4:05
Fri. Dec. 6 vs. Kalamazoo, 7:05
Sat. Dec. 7 vs. Kalamazoo, 7:05
Sun. Dec. 8 vs. Toledo, 4:05
Wed. Dec. 11 at Rapid City, 9:05
Fri. Dec. 13 at Rapid City, 9:05
Sat. Dec. 14 at Rapid City, 9:05
Fri. Dec. 20 vs. Toledo, 7:05
Sat. Dec. 21 vs. Kalamazoo, 7:05
Fri. Dec. 27 at Toledo, 7:15
Sun. Dec. 29 at Indy, 3:05
Tue. Dec. 31 vs. Norfolk, 6:05
Fri. Jan. 3 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Sat. Jan. 4 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Sun. Jan. 5 vs. Toledo, 4:05
Fri. Jan. 10 at Reading, 7:00
Sat. Jan. 11 vs. Fort Wayne, 7:05
Sun. Jan. 12 at Toledo, 5:15
Fri. Jan. 17 at Kalamazoo, 7:00
Sat. Jan. 18 at Indy, 6:05
Fri. Jan. 24 vs. Cincinnati, 7:05
Sat. Jan. 25 vs. Cincinnati, 7:05
Wed. Jan. 29 vs. Norfolk, 7:05
Fri. Jan. 31 vs. Orlando, 7:05
Sat. Feb. 1 vs. Orlando, 7:35
Tue. Feb. 4 vs. Kansas City, 7:05
Sat. Feb. 8 at Reading, 7:00
Fri. Feb. 14 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Sat. Feb. 15 vs. Fort Wayne, 7:05
Wed. Feb. 19 vs. Reading, 7:05
Fri. Feb. 21 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Sat. Feb. 22 at Kalamazoo, 7:00
Sun. Feb. 23 at Brampton, 4:00
Fri. Feb. 28 vs. Maine, 7:05
Sat. Feb. 29 vs. Cincinnati, 7:05
Sun. Mar. 1 at Toledo, 5:15
Wed. Mar. 4 at Fort Wayne, 7:35
Thu. Mar. 5 at Indy, 7:05
Fri. Mar. 6 at Kalamazoo, 7:00
Tue. Mar. 10 vs. Reading, 10:45 a.m.
Fri. Mar. 13 vs. Cincinnati, 7:05
Sat. Mar. 14 vs. Indy, 7:05
Sun. Mar. 15 vs. Toledo, 4:05
Fri. Mar. 20 at Kalamazoo, 7:00
Sat. Mar. 21 at Kalamazoo, 7:00
Sun. Mar. 22 at Toledo, 5:15
Wed. Mar. 25 vs. Adirondack, 7:05
Fri. Mar. 27 at Indy, 7:35
Sat. Mar. 28 vs. Reading, 7:05
Sun. Mar. 29 at Toledo, 5:15
Fri. Apr. 3 vs. Indy, 7:05
Sat. Apr. 4 at Toledo, 7:15
Sun. Apr. 5 at Kalamazoo, 3:00

Nailers Acquire Rights to Wade Murphy from Maine
Transaction Completes Future Considerations Deal Which Sent Josh Couturier to Mariners

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced a transaction, which takes effect immediately. Wheeling has acquired the rights to forward Wade Murphy from the Maine Mariners, completing the future considerations in the trade that originally sent Josh Couturier to Maine. This completes all future considerations trades involving the Nailers.

Murphy, 25, first entered the ECHL in the spring of 2017, after posting 20 points in 31 games in his final season of college hockey with the Arizona State University Sun Devils. Wade collected six points in his first 14 games as a pro, helping the Manchester Monarchs lock up the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Victoria, British Columbia native joined the Worcester Railers at the start of the 2017-18 campaign, and will be forever remembered there, as he netted the first goal in team history, which came in a 4-3 victory over Manchester. Murphy completed his first full season with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, then split last year between the Kalamazoo Wings and Maine Mariners, registering nine goals, 12 assists, 21 points, and 65 penalty minutes in 54 games.

Season-Ending Rosters are due to the ECHL on June 15th, before teams can begin signing players on June 16th. The 2019-20 regular season schedule will be announced Thursday afternoon.

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