Nailers Announce 2018 Training Camp Roster & Schedule
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their 2018 training camp roster. The roster consists of 29 players - 19 forwards, six defensemen, and four goaltenders.
The 2018 edition of Wheeling Nailers Training Camp has a very new feel to it, as only five of the 29 players have worn a Wheeling uniform in a previous season. Six of the remaining 24 have ECHL experience with other organizations, while ten others have played professionally in either the Southern Professional Hockey League, the Federal Hockey League, or in Europe.
The five familiar faces for Nailers fans are forward Andrew Schmit, defensemen Danny Fick and Ayrton Valente, and goaltenders Matt O'Connor and Danny Tirone. Fick is the player who has spent the most time in Wheeling, as he enters his fourth season with the organization, having amassed 45 points in 192 games during the previous three. Schmit was acquired by the Nailers last season in a four-player trade with the Indy Fuel, and went on to collect three assists in ten games. Valente came to Wheeling after completing his collegiate career at SUNY-Plattsburgh, and proceeded to record one goal and three assists in 11 contests. O'Connor and Tirone combined to appear in six games with the Nailers during the final two months of the regular season.
Leading the charge in the group of newcomers to Wheeling are forwards Zac Lynch and Nick Saracino. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Lynch is coming off a 22-goal, 46-point season with the Manchester Monarchs, as he prepares to begin his third pro campaign. Saracino is also entering his third year as a pro, following a 12-goal, 37-point season with the Worcester Railers. Forward Christian Isackson played in the ECHL for two seasons with the Wichita Thunder, and is ready to return to North America, after playing for Gap HC in France and the EIHL's Milton Keynes Lightning. Forward Alex Rauter and defenseman Aaron Titcomb both got their introductions to the professional level in the spring, after completing their college careers. Rauter posted three points in three games with the Atlanta Gladiators, while Titcomb accumulated a pair of assists in two tilts with the Adirondack Thunder. Finally, goaltender Evan Cowley turned in a 14-14-1 record as a rookie last season with the Manchester Monarchs and AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds.
Nine players attended training camp with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last week, and are expected to arrive in Wheeling in the coming days. Joining the aforementioned Fick, Lynch, O'Connor, Saracino, and Tirone were rookie forwards Tyler Bird, Yushiroh Hirano, and Cedric Lacroix, in addition to defenseman Craig Skudalski.
All Wheeling Nailers Training Camp practices are open to the public, who are asked to remain in the seating bowl while the team is on the ice. Practices on Tuesday, October 2nd, Wednesday, October 3rd, and Thursday October 4th will be held at 11:00 a.m. Morning skates on Friday, October 5th and Saturday, October 6th will both start at 10:15 a.m.
The Wheeling Nailers will play two preseason games this weekend against the Cincinnati Cyclones. The first game is at WesBanco Arena on Friday at 7:05, before the teams travel to U.S. Bank Arena for Saturday's rematch at 7:35. The regular season opens on October 13th, when the Nailers visit the Norfolk Admirals. Wheeling's first home game will take place on November 3rd 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, flex plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.
2018 Wheeling Nailers Training Camp Roster
F Caleb Apperson
F Tyler Bird
F Ray Boudiette
D Josh Couturier
G Evan Cowley
D Brien Diffley
F Mike Fazio
F Nathan Ferriero
D Danny Fick
F Eliot Grauer
F Yushiroh Hirano
F Christian Isackson
F Kasey Kulczycki
F Cedric Lacroix
F Zac Lynch
F Tommy Mahoney
G Joseph Murdaca
G Matt O'Connor
F Mark Petaccio
F Michael Phillips
F Alex Rauter
F Nick Saracino
F Ross Scherma
F Andrew Schmit
F Bryan Sienerth
D Craig Skudalski
G Danny Tirone
D Aaron Titcomb
D Ayrton Valente
2018 Wheeling Nailers Training Camp Schedule
Tuesday, October 2nd 11:00 AM Practice
Wednesday, October 3rd 11:00 AM Practice
Thursday, October 4th 11:00 AM Practice
Friday, October 5th 10:15 AM Morning Skate
7:05 PM Preseason Game vs. Cincinnati
Saturday, October 6th 10:15 AM Morning Skate
7:35 PM Preseason Game at Cincinnati
Nailers Sign Evan Cowley
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 18th player signing of the 2018 offseason. Wheeling has signed goaltender Evan Cowley to an ECHL contract.
Cowley, 23, is entering his second professional season, after splitting his rookie campaign between the AHL and ECHL levels with the Springfield Thunderbirds and Manchester Monarchs. Evan posted a 5-5-0 record, with a 3.13 goals against average, a .901 save percentage, and one shutout in 14 games with Springfield, while compiling a 9-9-1 mark, a 3.15 goals against average, a .902 save percentage, and two shutouts with Manchester. He also appeared in four playoff contests with the Monarchs, going 1-1 with one shutout during their second round series against the Adirondack Thunder.
"Evan Cowley has tremendous upside, because of his size, athleticism, and poise playing the position," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "His puckhandling skills will be an asset in our rink. We think Evan is ready to have a career season in Wheeling."
Prior to turning pro, the Evergreen, Colorado native attended the University of Denver for four years, where he majored in Economics while tending the crease for the Pioneers. Cowley finished with a goals against average under 2.25 and a save percentage of at least .920 in all four of his seasons in Denver, while earning a 23-15-3 record. The Pioneers reached the NCAA National Tournament in all four seasons with Evan on the roster, led by the 2016-17 squad which won the NCAA National Championship. Cowley is a former NHL draft pick, as he was selected by the Florida Panthers during the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
"This is a great opportunity for me to join a great organization with a coach that I have heard lots of good things about," Cowley said. "I enjoyed the experience and the atmosphere when I played in Wheeling last year, and I am excited to get there and hit the ground running. Because the rink is smaller, you have to be on your toes a bit more, so elite readiness is going to be key."
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 17th player signing of the 2018 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Christian Isackson to an ECHL contract.
Isackson, 26, returns to North America after spending the last two seasons in Europe, suiting up for Gap HC in France and the Milton Keynes Lightning in the United Kingdom. Christian's professional career began in the ECHL during the 2015-16 campaign, when he split the season between the Colorado Eagles and Wichita Thunder. After producing five points in 28 games with the Eagles, the forward ramped up his offensive game, tallying 11 goals and 24 points in 42 contests with the Thunder.
"Having played in the league before, Christian Isackson gives us some experience," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "He has a big body with skill, and can make plays for his linemates. We are excited about seeing his best hockey in Wheeling."
Prior to turning pro, the Pine City, Minnesota native attended the University of Minnesota, where he majored in Business, while playing four years of college hockey for the Golden Gophers. Isackson's best season in the Twin Cities was his sophomore year of 2012-13, when he compiled 20 points in 40 games. The Golden Gophers reached the NCAA National Tournament all four years that Christian was in the lineup, which included two trips to the Frozen Four. The University of Minnesota also won the Big Ten Tournament Championship during his senior year of 2014-15. Isackson also played one season with the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede, after being selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
"I spoke with Danny Fick, who spoke very highly of the organization, the city, and the fans," Isackson said. "This is a good opportunity for me to get back into the United States, get close to home, and see if I can move up. I see myself as a skilled forward, who likes to play a fast, hard two-way game.
Nailers Sign Christian Isackson
Nailers Announce 2018 Preseason Schedule
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their 2018 preseason schedule, in addition to two changes in the 2018-19 regular season schedule.
For the fifth consecutive preseason, the Nailers will play a two-game series against their closest geographical opponent, the Cincinnati Cyclones. Each team will get one home game in the set, which starts at WesBanco Arena on Friday, October 5th at 7:05. The clubs will travel to U.S. Bank Arena the following day for a 7:35 face-off on Saturday, October 6th.
The rivalry between the Nailers and Cyclones is entering its 16th season, and the all-time series has been nearly even. The Cyclones hold a slim 64-61 edge entering 2018-19, which will feature eight regular season games - five in Cincinnati and three in Wheeling. Head-to-head meetings during the upcoming campaign will carry extra significance, as the Nailers and Cyclones will be playing in the same division for the first time since 2014-15, when Wheeling edged Cincinnati by three points for the final playoff spot in the group.
The Nailers have also announced two changes to their regular season schedule. The game originally scheduled on Wednesday, November 28th in Kalamazoo will now be played on Tuesday, November 27th at 7:00 at Wings Event Center. The game originally scheduled on Friday, February 22nd in Cincinnati will now be played on Thursday, February 21st at 7:35 at U.S. Bank Arena.
Nailers Sign Four Forwards
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce four player signings for the upcoming season, bringing their total up to 16. Wheeling has signed forwards Tyler Bird, Yushiroh Hirano, Andrew Schmit, and Bryan Sienerth.
Bird, 22, was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, before attending Brown University for four years. The Andover, Massachusetts native appeared in 120 games with the Bears, compiling 22 goals, 13 assists, and 35 points. Tyler has been an extremely durable player, missing just four games during his entire collegiate career.
Hirano, 23, will become the second Japanese player in Wheeling's professional hockey history, joining Hiroyuki Miura, who played in six games for the Thunderbirds in 1993-94. This will be Yushiroh's second time playing in North America, as he finished third in scoring with 46 points for the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms during the 2015-16 campaign. Since then, the Tomakomai, Japan native has spent time with the Tohoku Free Blades in his home country, as well as Kalmar HC in Sweden.
Schmit, 27, will be entering his second ECHL season and third as a pro, while becoming the fifth returning player to the Nailers. The Grafton, Wisconsin native dished out three assists in ten games with Wheeling last season, giving him six points in 28 ECHL games overall. Andrew attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Miami University (Ohio), before starting his professional career with the SPHL's Pensacola Ice Flyers in 2016-17.
Sienerth, 22, is coming off of his best collegiate season, as he prepares to make the jump to the professional level. The Erie, Pennsylvania native attended college in his hometown at Mercyhurst University, where he skated with the Lakers for four seasons. Last year, Bryan racked up ten goals, 16 assists, and 26 points in 33 games, giving him career totals of 13 goals, 22 assists, and 35 points in 81 games.
"This group of forwards rounds out a diverse group of players up front," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "These players have come from different backgrounds, and we believe that they all have tremendous upside. They have size, speed, skill, and playmaking ability."
Nailers Sign Four Defensemen
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce four player signings for the upcoming season, bringing their total up to 12. Wheeling has signed defensemen Matt Abt, Josh Couturier, Brien Diffley, and Ayrton Valente.
Abt, 25, made his professional debut at the end of last season, when he appeared in 12 games with the Nailers, amassing one goal, five assists, and six points. The Leduc, Alberta native netted his first professional goal in his debut - a 4-3 overtime win against the Reading Royals. Prior to turning pro, Matt attended the Rochester Institute of Technology for four years, where he majored in Management Information Systems while playing for the Tigers. In college, he tallied 14 goals, 40 assists, and 54 points in 139 games.
Couturier, 23, is ready to begin his journey into the professional game, after completing his collegiate career in the spring. The Byfield, Massachusetts native spent one season at Boston College, before transferring to UMass-Amherst to continue playing college hockey, while majoring in Communications. Josh appeared in 72 career NCAA games, notching four goals, 17 assists, and 21 points.
Diffley, 23, is also a rookie, who will take the ice as a pro for the first time in October. The Burlington, Massachusetts native attended Boston University for four years, where he majored in Psychology, while suiting up with the Terriers. Boston University reached the NCAA National Tournament in all four years with Brien in the lineup, and also captured two Hockey East Championships. Diffley's career totals were three goals, 19 assists, and 22 points in 97 games.
Valente, 25, donned a Wheeling uniform to begin his professional career in the spring, as he posted one goal, three assists, and four points in 11 contests, which included a helper in his first career game - a 6-3 road win against the Manchester Monarchs. The Woodbridge, Ontario native also went the college route, attending SUNY-Plattsburgh for four years. While with the Cardinals, Ayrton accumulated 15 goals, 48 assists, and 63 points in 101 games.
"We are excited about this young group of defensemen coming to Wheeling," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "We get mobility in almost every guy, plus size and toughness. Each of them should be competing not only for spots in the lineup, but for key minutes as well."
Nailers Name Mike Bavis as Head Coach
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce that Mike Bavis has been named the team's new Head Coach & Director of Hockey Operations.
Bavis, 48, began his coaching career in 1998, joining the staff of his alma mater, Boston University. Mike spent 15 years as an assistant coach and an associate coach with Jack Parker and the Terriers. During his time there, Boston University compiled a 319-208-67 record, won the Hockey East Championship twice, and reached the NCAA National Tournament eight times, including the school's fifth National Championship in 2009. The Terriers also captured The Beanpot eight times with Bavis behind the bench. After leaving B.U., Mike spent one season as an assistant coach with the AHL's Springfield Falcons, and most recently, one season as an assistant coach at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
"We are very pleased to welcome Mike Bavis to Wheeling as our new head coach," said Nailers Governor Don Rigby. "Mike was an instrumental part in continuing a tremendous legacy with the ice hockey program at Boston University, while learning under one of the most influential NCAA coaches in Jack Parker. We are looking forward to him adding to our winning tradition, and becoming part of our community."
As a player, the Roslindale, Massachusetts native was a forward, who entered his freshman year at Boston University after being selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. Bavis appeared in 159 games with the Terriers, totaling 34 goals, 48 assists, and 82 points. Boston University reached the NCAA National Tournament all four seasons with Mike in the lineup, including three trips to the Frozen Four. After earning his degree in English, Bavis turned pro, playing two seasons in Buffalo's organization with the Rochester Americans and South Carolina Stingrays.
“In coming down to Wheeling, I was impressed with Don Rigby and Brian Komorowski, as they gave me a great introduction into the franchise,” Bavis said. “Having the right culture is really important, and as the coach, I have to know how to get the most out of our players. Our job is to try to build a team that is fast, skilled, and fearless, which will attack, make plays with the puck, and put pressure on the opponent.”
During his coaching career at Boston University, Mike had the opportunity to work with some outstanding players who went on to have great success in the NHL. Highlighting the top players were Nick Bonino, Charlie Coyle, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Whitney, and Colin Wilson. Bavis also had a few former Nailers under his tutelage with the Terriers, led by John Curry, Bryan Ewing, and Sahir Gill.
“Our organization is very pleased to be able to name Mike Bavis our head coach, said Pittsburgh Penguins Assistant General Manager Bill Guerin. “Mike has been a key contributor to establish a winning culture wherever he has been. We know he’ll do the same for the Wheeling Nailers."
Mike and his wife Kim have three children – son Jack (17) and daughters Ciara (15) and Tyler (11).
Nailers Announce Departure of Head Coach Mark Dennehy
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced the departure of Head Coach Mark Dennehy to become the head coach of the American Hockey League's Binghamton Devils, an affiliate of the New Jersey Devils.
"Unfortunately, this is what can happen in minor league hockey," said Wheeling Nailers Governor Don Rigby. "The ECHL is a developmental league for both players and coaches, and while we are disappointed with Coach Dennehy's departure, we wish him only great success in Binghamton. We have begun a search for a coach with the assistance of the Pittsburgh Penguins. We are confident that our search process will identify another high quality head coach."
Mark Dennehy joins Clark Donatelli as a fellow former head coach of the Nailers in the American Hockey League, while becoming the fourth ECHL head coach to earn a promotion to the AHL this summer. Wheeling prides itself on sending the most players to the NHL in ECHL history. In addition, the Nailers also have a strong history of staff members in the NHL, highlighted by Nashville Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette.
"I'm sorry that my time in Wheeling was so short," Dennehy said. "Wheeling is a great city and the Nailers are a first class organization."
Nailers Re-Sign Goalie Danny Tirone
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their eighth player signing of the 2018 offseason. Wheeling has signed goaltender Danny Tirone to an ECHL contract.
Tirone, 24, got his first taste of the pro game at the end of this past season, when he appeared in two games with the Nailers, following his four-year collegiate career at the University of New Hampshire. Danny made 17 saves in his debut against the Reading Royals, then came up with 22 stops on the road against the 50-win Toledo Walleye.
"Danny Tirone is a proven winner," said Nailers Head Coach Mark Dennehy. "I can attest first-hand, as he single-handedly knocked my team out of the playoffs two years ago. He is incredibly athletic, has a real high end to his game, and is looking to take his game to the next level."
The Trumbull, Connecticut native was the starting goaltender in three of his four seasons with the UNH Wildcats, appearing in a school record 125 games. Tirone collected 48 wins over the course of the four years, topping out with 15 as a junior. He also maintained a goals against average under 3.00 in three of four seasons, as well as a save percentage of at least .910 in three of four campaigns. In addition to games played, Danny also set the school record for most saves in a career, turning away 3,637 opposition attempts.
"I had a really good experience in Wheeling at the end of last season, and I am excited to be back and start again," Tirone said. "From the top down, this is a really good organization to be part of, and I have a ton of respect for Coach Dennehy. His Merrimack teams gave us tons of trouble and were hard to play against. The intensity, speed, and pace of play was a big jump for me, but I am glad I experienced that challenge, as it helped me learn how to be a pro."
Nailers Re-Sign Danny Fick
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their seventh player signing of the 2018 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed defenseman Danny Fick to an ECHL contract.
Fick, 26, becomes the first returning player to sign an ECHL contract with the Nailers for the upcoming season. Danny will be entering his fourth season with the team, having served as a steady and reliable defenseman from the time he arrived in Wheeling in 2015. In his first season, the blueliner accumulated seven points in 53 regular season games, then went on to be one of eight players to appear in all 26 playoff contests, as the Nailers reached the Kelly Cup Final. Over the course of the next two years, Fick played in all but five games, and in 2017-18, he set career highs in five categories, notching four goals, 19 assists, 23 points, and a +13 rating in 70 games. Danny has also suited up in two AHL games in his career - both with the San Antonio Rampage.
"Danny Fick is an incredibly mobile defenseman, who plays a really strong game," said Nailers Head Coach Mark Dennehy. "He is a smart player who is looking to take the next step, and thinks enough about Wheeling to want to return."
Prior to his time in the Friendly City, the Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota native spent one season in Norway, collecting one assist during the regular season, before ramping things up with five points in six relegation matches. Fick attended Harvard University for four years, compiling nine points, while shutting down top forwards from opposing clubs.
Danny Fick and the Wheeling Nailers will begin
Nailers Sign Alex Rauter
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their sixth player signing of the 2018 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Alex Rauter to an ECHL contract.
Rauter, 24, made his professional debut at the end of this past season, when he joined the Atlanta Gladiators for the stretch run and the Kelly Cup Playoffs. On March 31st, Alex appeared in his first game, scoring a goal on the road against the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Florida Everblades. The forward followed that up with two assists in his second game, helping Atlanta into the win column against the Orlando Solar Bears. After suiting up in three regular season contests, Rauter was in the lineup in all four playoff games for the Gladiators, tallying one goal.
"Alex Rauter was the captain of Cornell last season," said Nailers Head Coach Mark Dennehy. "He is really smart, and a gifted offensive player, who is incredibly versatile. Anytime you can get a captain from Cornell on your roster, that's a big win."
Prior to turning pro, the Chatham, New Jersey native attended Cornell University, where he played four years of college hockey for the Big Red. Rauter's productivity increased each year while he was at school, culminating with 11 goals and 20 points in his senior season of 2017-18, which ranked third on the team. During his four year career, he accumulated 20 goals, 23 assists, and 43 points in 93 games. Alex will look to continue a positive trend of Cornell graduates making big contributions in Wheeling, following in the footsteps of his former teammates John McCarron and Christian Hilbrich.
"Mark Dennehy was big in the process of bringing me to Wheeling - he coached against me in college, and I liked his style," Rauter said. "It was lots of fun playing in the playoffs with Atlanta. It was a whole new level, and I got to see how hard everyone works. I like to pride myself on being a complete player, who brings lots of offense to the table, and plays defensively as well."
Top Defensive Scorer Joins Nailers
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their fifth player signing of the 2018 offseason. Wheeling has signed defenseman Dalton Carter to an ECHL contract.
Carter, 24, got his first taste of professional hockey by appearing in a pair of ECHL games in the spring, but enters the 2018-19 campaign as a rookie. Dalton attended Utica College for four years, where he majored in Business Management, while filling the net as an offensive defenseman for the Pioneers. The blueliner is coming off of his best collegiate season, as he finished second on his team in scoring, racking up 11 goals, 28 assists, and 39 points in 26 games. Carter was Utica College's top defensive scorer in two of his four years at the school, completing his career as a Pioneer with 82 points in 106 contests.
"Dalton Carter is a rangy right shot defenseman with good length, offensive instincts, and a bomb," said Nailers Head Coach Mark Dennehy. "He scored 11 goals in 26 games with seven power play marks. He has plenty of upside."
The Sylvania, Ohio native had a chance to make his pro debut close to home, as he suited up with the Toledo Walleye on March 9th. That night, Dalton posted a +4 rating and registered two shots on goal, as the Walleye walloped the Quad City Mallards, 8-0. Toledo fell short in Carter's second match, but the blueliner was still able to come away with an even rating.
"I've been to Wheeling a couple of times with one of my junior teammates, and I am excited to take the opportunity there," Carter said. "I pride myself on being offensive on the blueline and getting the puck on net."
Cedric Lacroix Signs
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their fourth player signing of the 2018 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Cedric Lacroix to an ECHL contract.
Lacroix, 23, is set to make his professional debut, following four years of college hockey at the University of Maine. Cedric was an extremely reliable player for the Black Bears, as he appeared in all but six games during his career in Orono. He produced 21 goals, 19 assists, and 40 points in 145 games, led by a six-goal, 11-point output in 34 games as a senior in 2017-18. Three of Lacroix's six goals during his senior year were game winners, and he also posted his best +/-, checking in at +9, which was tied for fourth on the team.
"Cedric is a strong skating, heavy centerman, who plays a solid 200-foot game," said Nailers Head Coach Mark Dennehy. "As good as he was at Maine, I think he'll be an even better pro. He plays hard, goes to the hard areas (which should increase his offensive numbers), and works incredibly hard."
The native of Shefford, Quebec played two years of junior hockey in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers, accumulating 14 goals, 12 assists, 26 points, and 296 penalty minutes in 107 games. Cedric is the son of Daniel Lacroix, who played in the NHL for parts of seven seasons, before going on to be an NHL assistant coach for 11 seasons with the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Montreal Canadiens. Cedric was teammates with 2017-18 Nailer Cam Brown for three seasons at Maine, while also suiting up with Connor Leen and Andrew Cerretani.
"I felt like Mark Dennehy had a good grasp on how I am as a player, and I think I can complement his coaching style," Lacroix said. "I pride myself on my physicality, while being a role player, who can contribute offensively and also bring high intensity. I am excited for new challenges, a chance to grow and develop as a player, and the opportunity to win games while building something with my teammates."
Nailers Sign Aaron Titcomb
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their third player signing of the 2018 offseason. Wheeling has signed defenseman Aaron Titcomb to an ECHL contract.
Titcomb, 25, got his first taste of professional hockey at the end of this past season, when he suited up with the Adirondack Thunder. Aaron appeared in two games for Adirondack, notching an assist in each contest, as the Thunder won both matches to lock up first place in the North Division.
"Aaron is a warrior on the ice," said Nailers Head Coach Mark Dennehy. "He is going to do whatever he has to do to help his team. He is big, strong and mobile, and he competes every shift."
Prior to turning pro, the Charlestown, Massachusetts native played four years of college hockey at Merrimack College under Mark Dennehy. At 6-foot-4, Titcomb was an anchor on the blueline for the Warriors, playing a more defensive role, as he totaled 14 points in 102 career games. Aaron's most productive year came during his sophomore season, when he collected nine points, while posting a +5 rating.
"I played under Coach Mark Dennehy for four years at Merrimack College - he's a great guy to play for, and I am excited to start my pro career under him," Titcomb said. "For my style of play, I am a blue collar defenseman, who blocks shots and kills penalties. I pride myself on my physicality and I will take care of my teammates. I'm excited to get out there to Wheeling to meet the fans and meet my teammates
Nailers Extend Qualifying Offers to Four Players
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their list of players who received qualifying offers for the summer of 2018. Four players were tendered qualifying offers for Wheeling.
Each team was entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight qualified players. Of the eight qualified players, no more than four could be veterans (260 regular season professional hockey games played as of the start of the upcoming 2018-19 season). Players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded.
The qualifying offer must remain open for acceptance until July 16th, at which time the qualifying offer becomes null and void and the team may sign the qualified player to any salary or may elect to take no further action. Teams that extend a valid qualifying offer to a non-veteran player shall retain the rights to that qualified player for one playing season.
A team that extends a valid qualifying offer to a veteran player will retain the rights to that veteran until July 16th. After July 16th, if the veteran player is not signed to a contract by the team, the veteran shall be deemed a restricted free agent and shall be entitled to seek and secure offers of employment from other ECHL teams. Restricted free agents may not be traded. When a restricted free agent receives a contract offer from a team other than the team with the player’s rights and the restricted free agent wishes to accept the contract offer, the restricted free agent and the offering member must, within 24 hours, notify the ECHL, the team with the player’s rights and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association. The member with the player’s rights shall have seven days after the date it is notified to exercise its right to match the contract offer.
If a restricted free agent is not signed to either an offer sheet or a contract by an ECHL team by August 1st, the player shall be deemed an unrestricted free agent.
The four qualified players for the Wheeling Nailers are:
Garrett Meurs (veteran)
If a player has already signed a contract for 2018-19, that player does not need to be tendered a qualifying offer.
WELCOME HOME ZAC
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced a trade. Wheeling has acquired forward Zac Lynch from the Manchester Monarchs in exchange for future considerations. Lynch has signed an ECHL contract, making him the second player under contract for the upcoming season.
Lynch, 26, is set to begin his third full season of professional hockey, after spending the majority of his first two years with the Manchester Monarchs. Zac first debuted as a pro with the AHL's Portland Pirates at the end of the 2015-16 season, picking up one assist in seven games. In his rookie campaign of 2016-17, he was a point-per-game player with Manchester, amassing 18 goals and 16 assists in 34 games, while also appearing in 21 tilts with the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds. Last season, Lynch finished second on the Monarchs in scoring, racking up 22 goals, 24 assists, and 46 points in 58 matches. Once again, he saw AHL time as well, collecting three points in eight games with the Utica Comets.
"Zac is an established scorer at this level," said Nailers Head Coach Mark Dennehy. "We couldn't be happier to bring him home to the Pittsburgh area."
Prior to turning pro, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native attended Robert Morris University, where he majored in Manufacturing Engineering, while playing four years of college hockey for the Colonials. Lynch had tremendous success at RMU, posting 67 goals, 89 assists, and 156 points in 152 games. His 67 goals and 156 points both rank second in school history, while his 89 assists rank third. Zac's best season with the Colonials was his senior year of 2015-16, when he recorded 25 goals, 30 assists, and 55 points in 39 games. The 55 points are the second most in a single season in school history. Lynch was teammates at Robert Morris with two players who went on to spend time in Wheeling - Cody Wydo and Daniel Leavens. Lynch, Wydo, and Leavens were part of the 2013-14 Colonials, who were the first to ever reach the NCAA National Tournament.
"This is very exciting for me, as I will be near my hometown of Pittsburgh and near my family and friends," Lynch said. "I watched the organization a lot growing up, and I am humbled to be part of such a storied team. I pride myself on being a solid two-way player. Special teams are a big part of my game, and my ability to score has driven me every year to produce more. My goal is to better myself, while also pushing my teammates to get better."
ONE NICK MOVES ON AS ANOTHER MOVES IN...
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced a trade. Wheeling has acquired forward Nick Saracino from the Worcester Railers in exchange for forward Nick Sorkin. Saracino has signed an ECHL contract with the Nailers, becoming the first player on the team to do so this summer.
Saracino, 26, will be entering his third full season of professional hockey and second in the ECHL. Nick's pro career began at the conclusion of the 2015-16 campaign, when he joined the AHL's Iowa Wild after completing his collegiate career. He spent the following year with the Wild as well, compiling eight points in 40 games overall. This past season, the St. Louis, Missouri native was a member of the Worcester Railers. In 61 regular season games, Saracino tallied 12 goals, 25 assists, and 37 points. He then tacked on three goals, two assists, and five points during Worcester's first round playoff series against the Adirondack Thunder. Nick was most productive against the Nailers, accumulating four goals, five assists, and nine points in the nine-game season series.
"We are thrilled to welcome Nick to the Nailers," said Wheeling Head Coach Mark Dennehy. "He brings a winning mentality, having been a pivotal part of Providence College's NCAA Championship team. He can be a dominant power forward and typifies how we want to play."
Prior to turning pro, Saracino attended Providence College for four years, where he majored in Accounting, while playing for the Friars. Nick had a very successful college career, notching at least ten goals in all four seasons at Providence, led by a 14-goal, 38-point output during his junior year. That campaign proved to be extra special, as the Friars won the NCAA National Championship with a 4-3 comeback win over Hockey East rival Boston University at T.D. Garden in Boston. Providence College reached the NCAA National Tournament in three of Saracino's four years on campus. Nick was college hockey teammates for one year with Derek Army, and junior hockey teammates for one year with Riley Bourbonnais, when they played for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
"I played against teams that Mark Dennehy coached in college, so I am really excited to work under him, win games, and get Wheeling back into the playoffs," Saracino said. "I try to be a two-way forward, who will score goals and play defense. Wheeling has a good atmosphere with good fans, and I am looking forward to learning the city."
Sorkin, 27, recently completed his second season with the Nailers, as he moves on to his second ECHL team. Nick turned in strong offensive numbers in both of his campaigns in Wheeling, finishing third on the team in scoring with 57 points in 2016-17, before topping the squad with 58 points this past season. His 49 assists in 2017-18 were tied with three other players for the most by a Nailer in the last 14 years. Prior to coming to Wheeling, the Rockville, Maryland native played parts of two seasons with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs, in addition to one season in Sweden with Vasteras IK.
Think you have what it takes to play for the Wheeling Nailers? Prove it!
WHEELING NAILERS TRYOUT CAMP JULY 21-22
The Toyota SportsPlex is excited to once again announce an open tryout for the Wheeling Nailers, ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The tryout is scheduled for Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22, 2018, and a minimum of three participants will be invited to attend Wheeling’s 2018-19 training camp.
“Last year, Wheeling ended up offering four players training camp invites from this tryout,” said Jarrod Skalde, Pittsburgh Penguins player development coach. “It’s a great opportunity, and we’re already looking forward to another strong showing from some of these skaters.” Skalde, along with former Nailers assistant coach Jay Spess, will oversee this year’s tryout.
Registration information is available at www.toyotasportsplex.com. The tryout is limited to 75 participants. All interested parties must provide proof of medical insurance and be paid in full prior to participating. The cost to attend the camp is $350.00.
“This was a great event last year, and I’m glad we’re able to host it again,” added Jason Jarecki, General Manager of the Toyota SportsPlex. “As I’ve said before, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these players.”
A full tryout camp itinerary will be provided upon completion of registration. For additional information, please contact Jay Spess via e-mail at email@example.com
DEREK ARMY MOVES ON
MEET THE NEW COACH
13-Year Coach at Merrimack College Makes the Jump to the Pros
OFFICIAL: The Wheeling Nailers name Mark Dennehy as the 17th Head Coach in team history.
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce that Mark Dennehy has been named the team's new Head Coach & Director of Hockey Operations.
Dennehy, 50, makes the jump from college hockey to the professional ranks, after serving as the head coach of Merrimack College for 13 years. When Mark first took over the role in 2005, the program was coming off its 16th consecutive losing season. In a matter of six years under his guidance, the Warriors were not only having success, but setting school records, as the 2010-11 team earned a school-record 25 wins, while reaching the Hockey East Championship Game for the first time ever, and earning a berth in the NCAA National Tournament for the first time since 1988. Merrimack College followed that up with an 18-12-7 mark, as the school was earning a reputation as a contender in a challenging conference. Dennehy collected 161 wins during his tenure.
"After an extensive search, we are excited to welcome Mark Dennehy to Wheeling as our new head coach," said Nailers Governor Don Rigby. "Mark is highly qualified for this position, and we are very encouraged by the work he did with the students at Merrimack College for the last 13 years. We are looking forward to great success with him behind the bench."
The Dorchester, Massachusetts native has been involved in Hockey East for the majority of his career, starting in 1987, when he suited up as a defenseman for the Boston College Eagles. Mark attended Boston College for four years, registering eight goals, 46 assists, and 54 points in 133 games. He went on to play in the British Hockey League, before returning to North America, where he made the transition to become a coach. Dennehy was an assistant coach at Princeton University and UMass-Amherst, before earning the opportunity to be Merrimack College's head coach.
"I'd like to thank Don Rigby, Brian Komorowski and the entire Wheeling Nailers organization, as well as Bill Guerin and the Pittsburgh Penguins organization for this incredibly exciting opportunity," Dennehy said. "Everything I've heard about Wheeling and the Nailers organization from agents, players and opposing coaches has been positive, and after visiting Wheeling and touring the facilities, I can see why. I've heard the support is outstanding as well. It's a storied team, and I can't think of a better place to start my professional coaching career."
Six former Nailers played under Dennehy at Merrimack College - forwards Matt Byrnes, Chris Barton, Ryan Flanigan, Jordan Fox and Matt Johnson, as well as defenseman Adam Ross. Barton, Flanigan and Ross were all members of the 2010-11 team that reached the NCAA National Tournament. Other notable players Mark coached include goaltenders Joe Cannata and Collin Delia. Cannata recently backstopped the Colorado Eagles to the Kelly Cup Final, while Delia made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks this past season. Dennehy becomes the third NCAA Division I Coach to be hired by a professional team this summer, joining Jim Montgomery and David Quinn, who both went to the NHL.
“We’re very excited to land a veteran coach of Mark’s caliber to our organization," said Pittsburgh Penguins Assistant General Manager Bill Guerin. Mark is very well-regarded within the hockey community. He did a superb job rebuilding the program at Merrimack College. I’ve known Mark for 30 years. He’ll bring that same work ethic and desire to win and develop quality young talent to the Wheeling Nailers.”
Mark and his wife Heather have three daughters - Kelsey (14), Kielan (13), and Caroline (10).
Mark Dennehy becomes the 17th head coach in team history. He and the Wheeling Nailers will open the 2018-19 regular season on October 13th, when they visit the Norfolk Admirals. Wheeling's first home game with Dennehy behind the bench will take place on November 3rd against the Indy Fuel. For information on season tickets, group tickets, flex plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.