TEAM NEWS 2023-24
Nailers Announce 2023-24 Schedule
Wheeling Opens 32nd Season at Cincinnati; Home Opener is November 4th vs. Reading
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their schedule for the 2023-24 season - the 32nd season of professional hockey in Wheeling.
The 2023-24 schedule is extremely family friendly, as 35 of the 36 home games will be played on weekends or holidays, with the lone outlier being the annual Education Day game. After starting the season with three straight road contests, Wheeling will play its home opener in November for the third time in six years, as Saturday, November 4th will be the first game in Nail City. While Central Division rivals account for over half of the games (47 of 72), there is significantly more variety on the slate, as the Nailers will face 12 teams. The most frequent opponents are Indy (11) and Cincinnati (10), while WesBanco Arena will open its doors for home series against Idaho, Norfolk, Orlando, and Tulsa. Wheeling will also travel to Orlando for a road series, in addition to the first visit to Utah in team history. Home game times will remain the same, as Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday games will begin at 7:10, Sunday games will begin at 4:10, New Year's Eve will begin at 6:10, and Education Day will begin at 10:45 a.m.
Fans won't have to travel far to catch the season opener, as the Nailers will start off by visiting their closest geographical opponent, the Cincinnati Cyclones, on Saturday, October 21st. The second week of the campaign will take Wheeling to Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne, and the October 27th clash will be the team's lone game at Wings Event Center in the entire season.
While the teams currently play in opposite conferences, the Nailers and Reading Royals have enjoyed a memorable rivalry of over 200 games, and that is how the home docket will begin, as Wheeling will host Reading on Saturday, November 4th and Sunday, October 5th. That is part of a season-long five-game homestand, which will continue the following weekend, as the Brabham Cup Champion Idaho Steelheads will come to Nail City for the first time since 2017 for tilts on November 10th, 11th, and 12th. Other highlights in November include a morning game in Toledo on the 15th, the traditional Thanksgiving Eve game, which is also against the Walleye on the 22nd, and the lone visit of the season by the Iowa Heartlanders to close out Thanksgiving Weekend on the 25th and 26th.
December will also be packed full of home matches, as Wheeling will take the ice eight times in front of the best fans in all of hockey. That is tied with November and February for the most in a month in 2023-24. Four of the five weekends that month will feature multiple home games, starting with divisional match-ups against Toledo and Kalamazoo on the 1st and 3rd. The Nailers will then get to dip their toes into Mountain Division waters again, as the Tulsa Oilers will play in Downtown Wheeling for the fourth and fifth times ever on the 9th and 10th. Indy and Cincinnati will be the last two home opponents before the holidays on the 15th and 16th, while 2023 will conclude with a two-game series against the Norfolk Admirals on December 30th and 31st. This will be the third New Year's Eve clash with the Admirals in the last five years.
Sunshine will greet the Nailers as the calendar flips to 2024, as the squad will head to Orlando for a three-game series against the Solar Bears on January 5th, 6th, and 7th. The second week of January will be a significant one, as it is the only time Wheeling will be at home all month. Indy will be in for the 12th and 13th, before Kalamazoo wraps up the weekend on the 14th. The rest of January will feature series in Iowa and Reading, as well as a solo trip to Cincinnati.
February starts in similar fashion to the way January did, but this time, it will be in the Friendly City, as the Nailers and Solar Bears have three more tilts on tap for February 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Wheeling will then make a quick stop in Reading to try to teach the Royals a thing or two in a morning game, before the two clubs meet again at WesBanco Arena on February 9th and 10th. After that, it's off to a brand new place, as the Nailers will lace up their skates in a 30th state, when they battle the Utah Grizzlies in West Valley City on February 16th, 17th, and 19th. A pair of familiar faces will welcome Wheeling back to the Eastern Time Zone, as one game against the Komets and two with the Wings closes out the home portion of February.
The majority of early March will be spent on enemy ice, as the lone home contest in a nine-game stretch is a Sunday afternoon collision with the Cyclones on March 3rd. However, the stretch run could play a major role in helping the Nailers make their final postseason push, as eight of the last 11 games will take place at WesBanco Arena, and all eight are against Central Division foes. Indy will be the opposition for Education Day on March 19th, and Wheeling will do a lot of studying that week, as three more teams appear on the slate for that weekend - Kalamazoo on the 22nd, Fort Wayne on the 23rd, and Cincinnati on the 24th. One final swing on the road will take the Nailers through Toledo, Cincinnati, and Indy, before the team gears up for one last four-game homestand. Wheeling will host Fort Wayne on April 5th, Indy on April 7th, and Toledo on April 12th, before the 2023-24 regular season ends in the reverse order in which it began, as the Nailers will challenge the Cyclones at WesBanco Arena on April 13th.
2023-24 Opponent Breakdown
11 vs. Indy - 5 home, 6 away
10 vs. Cincinnati - 4 home, 6 away
9 vs. Reading - 4 home, 5 away
8 vs. Fort Wayne - 3 home, 5 away
7 vs. Iowa - 2 home, 5 away
6 vs. Kalamazoo - 5 home, 1 away
6 vs. Orlando - 3 home, 3 away
5 vs. Toledo - 3 home, 2 away
3 vs. Idaho - 3 home
3 vs. Utah - 3 away
2 vs. Norfolk - 2 home
2 vs. Tulsa - 2 home
Sat. Oct. 21 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Fri. Oct. 27 at Kalamazoo, 7:00
Sat. Oct. 28 at Fort Wayne, 7:30
Sat. Nov. 4 vs. Reading, 7:10
Sun. Nov. 5 vs. Reading, 4:10
Fri. Nov. 10 vs. Idaho, 7:10
Sat. Nov. 11 vs. Idaho, 7:10
Sun. Nov. 12 vs. Idaho, 4:10
Wed. Nov. 15 at Toledo, 10:35 a.m.
Fri. Nov. 17 at Indy, 7:00
Sun. Nov. 19 at Fort Wayne, 5:00
Wed. Nov. 22 vs. Toledo, 7:10
Fri. Nov. 24 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Sat. Nov. 25 vs. Iowa, 7:10
Sun. Nov. 26 vs. Iowa, 4:10
Wed. Nov. 29 at Indy, 7:00
Fri. Dec. 1 vs. Toledo, 7:10
Sat. Dec. 2 at Indy, 7:00
Sun. Dec. 3 vs. Kalamazoo, 4:10
Fri. Dec. 8 at Indy, 7:00
Sat. Dec. 9 vs. Tulsa, 7:10
Sun. Dec. 10 vs. Tulsa, 4:10
Fri. Dec. 15 vs. Indy, 7:10
Sat. Dec. 16 vs. Cincinnati, 7:10
Fri. Dec. 22 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Wed. Dec. 27 at Indy, 7:00
Sat. Dec. 30 vs. Norfolk, 7:10
Sun. Dec. 31 vs. Norfolk, 6:10
Fri. Jan. 5 at Orlando, 7:00
Sat. Jan. 6 at Orlando, 7:00
Sun. Jan. 7 at Orlando, 3:00
Fri. Jan. 12 vs. Indy, 7:10
Sat. Jan. 13 vs. Indy, 7:10
Sun. Jan. 14 vs. Kalamazoo, 4:10
Fri. Jan. 19 at Iowa, 8:05
Sat. Jan. 20 at Iowa, 8:05
Wed. Jan. 24 at Reading, 7:00
Fri. Jan. 26 at Reading, 7:00
Sat. Jan. 27 at Reading, 7:00
Wed. Jan. 31 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Fri. Feb. 2 vs. Orlando, 7:10
Sat. Feb. 3 vs. Orlando, 7:10
Sun. Feb. 4 vs. Orlando, 4:10
Tue. Feb. 6 at Reading, 10:30 a.m.
Fri. Feb. 9 vs. Reading, 7:10
Sat. Feb. 10 vs. Reading, 7:10
Fri. Feb. 16 at Utah, 9:10
Sat. Feb. 17 at Utah, 9:10
Mon. Feb. 19 at Utah, 5:10
Fri. Feb. 23 vs. Fort Wayne, 7:10
Sat. Feb. 24 vs. Kalamazoo, 7:10
Sun. Feb. 25 vs. Kalamazoo, 4:10
Wed. Feb. 28 at Reading, 7:00
Fri. Mar. 1 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Sat. Mar. 2 at Fort Wayne, 7:30
Sun. Mar. 3 vs. Cincinnati, 4:10
Fri. Mar. 8 at Fort Wayne, 8:00
Sat. Mar. 9 at Fort Wayne, 7:30
Wed. Mar. 13 at Iowa, 8:05
Fri. Mar. 15 at Iowa, 8:05
Sat. Mar. 16 at Iowa, 8:05
Tue. Mar. 19 vs. Indy, 10:45 a.m.
Fri. Mar. 22 vs. Kalamazoo, 7:10
Sat. Mar. 23 vs. Fort Wayne, 7:10
Sun. Mar. 24 vs. Cincinnati, 4:10
Fri. Mar. 29 at Toledo, 7:15
Sat. Mar. 30 at Cincinnati, 7:35
Wed. Apr. 3 at Indy, 7:00
Fri. Apr. 5 vs. Fort Wayne, 7:10
Sun. Apr. 7 vs. Indy, 4:10
Fri. Apr. 12 vs. Toledo, 7:10
Sat. Apr. 13 vs. Cincinnati 7:10
Head Coach Derek Army Signs Three-Year Extension
32-Year Old Ranks Sixth All-Time with 72 Wins
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce that Head Coach Derek Army has signed a three-year contract extension. The deal will keep him as the team's head coach through the 2025-26 campaign.
Army, 32, recently completed his second full season as the team's head coach and third overall, as he joined the coaching staff as an assistant in 2020-21, before being promoted to interim head coach in the middle of that season. Derek has already climbed the ranks to sixth on Wheeling's all-time list with 72 regular season wins, and he is one of eight coaches in team history to win a playoff series. In addition to building a winning team for the Nailers, Army has also achieved great success in developing players for the AHL, as 33 players from the last two seasons have earned promotions to the next level, including 18 who started in Wheeling on ECHL contracts.
"Derek Army has done a terrific job for our organization, and we are looking forward to watching him succeed even more in these next three seasons," said Nailers Team President Brian Komorowski. "With Derek behind the bench, we were able to get a taste of our first playoff success since 2016, which is something that we are eager to see more of in the near future. Derek also understands the importance of family and community, which make him an incredible ambassador for our team."
The North Kingstown, Rhode Island native first arrived in Nail City during the final weeks of the 2013-14 season, after he completed his collegiate playing career at Providence College. Derek then played in parts of each of the next four seasons with the Nailers, as he amassed 59 goals, 71 assists, and 130 points in 159 games. His 59 goals rank tenth all-time, and he is one of five players in team history to play in parts of at least five seasons. Similar to his players, Army also reached the AHL, as he appeared in 97 games with six different teams. Derek's best individual season came in 2014-15, when he led Wheeling with 29 goals and played in all 72 games. His best season with a team was in 2015-16, when the Nailers reached the Kelly Cup Final.
"My family and I couldn't be more excited to be back in Wheeling," Army said. "We absolutely love everything about being here, from the support of our fans, this great community, our close-knit team on the ice, and first class organizations with the Nailers and Penguins. I have loved my time here both as a player and as a coach, and I can't wait to continue building something special."
2023-24 will be Army's ninth season in the organization, which is the most for any player or coach in team history. Derek and his wife Jenn have a two-year old son Boone and a six-month old daughter Adelina. The Army family has lived in Wheeling since 2021.