WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, will be switching divisions for the 2018-19 season. The ECHL's Board of Governors announced a new divisional alignment on Tuesday, as well as the addition of one new team, and one team withdrawing its membership.
Starting in 2018-19, the Nailers will be members of the Central Division, where they will be joined by the Cincinnati Cyclones, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, and Toledo Walleye. Four of Wheeling's five new division rivals are located within 400 miles of the Friendly City, and the Nailers have previously faced three of the five clubs in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Central Division joins with the Mountain Division (Allen, Idaho, Kansas City, Rapid City, Tulsa, Utah, Wichita) to make up the ECHL's Western Conference.
"The move to the Central Division is an extremely beneficial one for our team," said Nailers Alternate Governor Brian Komorowski. "This will limit the wear and tear of long divisional road trips, by bringing us together with teams close to us geographically. It will also help to increase the number of games we play against traditional rivals such as Cincinnati, Toledo, and Kalamazoo, while keeping games with teams like Reading on our schedule."
In addition to the divisional alignment, the ECHL also announced that there will be a new team in St. John's, Newfoundland, which will begin play in 2018-19. Similar to Portland, Maine, who welcomes the Mariners next season, St. John's comes to the ECHL with a rich hockey history, as it hosted AHL teams (Maple Leafs & IceCaps) for 20 seasons and a QMJHL team (Fog Devils) for three years.
Finally, one team will not be part of the ECHL in 2018-19, as the Quad City Mallards withdrew their membership. Quad City first joined the league in 2014, when the Mallards and six other former Central Hockey League clubs came to the ECHL. The Nailers posted a 6-2-0 all-time record against Quad City, going 3-1-0 in each building.
The Nailers will play a pair of games on the road next weekend, as they visit Worcester on Friday at 7:05, then Adirondack on Saturday at 3:00. Wheeling will then return home for four straight games, starting with a WesBanco Winning Wednesday on March 21st against the Railers. The first 2,500 fans will receive can koozies at the March 23rd game, which is also Trades Night and a Frosty Friday. Saturday, March 24th is Charity Night, benefiting WVU Medicine Children's Hospital. The next big promotional game is Fan Appreciation Night on March 31st, featuring prizes throughout the night, a team trading card set giveaway, and a post game autograph session with the entire team. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.