WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 12th player signing of the 2017 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Tommy Mele to an ECHL contract.
Mele, 31, becomes the second veteran player to sign with the Nailers this summer, as he has appeared in 329 career games, playing in the AHL, ECHL, and CHL. Tommy and his teams experienced great success almost immediately, as he and the Fort Wayne Komets won the Ray Miron President's Cup as Central Hockey League champions in his rookie season of 2011-12. Two years later, he got to taste victory again, when the Alaska Aces captured the 2014 Kelly Cup. Over the course of his six-year career, Mele has made significant offensive contributions, while also playing a physical brand of hockey. In 2014-15 as a member of the Tulsa Oilers, the forward notched the first of back-to-back 20-goal seasons, while racking up 200 penalty minutes. One year later, he set a career high in goals, lighting the lamp 27 times for the Norfolk Admirals and Cincinnati Cyclones. Last season, he collected ten goals and 17 points in 40 games with Cincinnati. In his career, Tommy has amassed 87 goals, 76 assists, 163 points, and 595 penalty minutes.
"Tommy Mele is a solid veteran guy, who is gritty and has a swagger, which we like," said Nailers Head Coach Jeff Christian. "He can play in every situation, he can score, he's a heck of a penalty killer, and he gets under guys' skin. Tommy is a two-time champion, who knows how to win, and will be a positive influence on our younger players."
Prior to turning pro, the Bronx, New York native attended American International College, where he majored in Management, while playing four years of college hockey for the Yellow Jackets. Tommy got to enjoy a neat opportunity while he was in school, as he was teammates with his younger brother Steve during his final two seasons. Since then, the Mele brothers have been teammates at the professional level twice. Tommy's best season at American International College was his senior year, when he recorded ten goals and 19 points, giving him career totals of 32 goals, 23 assists, 55 points, and 63 penalty minutes. He also played three seasons of junior hockey with the CJHL's Hawkesbury Hawks, including a 28-goal, 66-point campaign in 2006-07.
"I see myself as a solid two-way forward, who is responsible defensively, but can also contribute on the scoresheet," Mele said. "I like being hard to play against and filling multiple roles that gives my team a chance to win every night. After speaking with Jeff and hearing what he had to say about our young core and the direction he wanted to go in terms of developing and becoming a playoff contender again, I felt my experience and winning pedigree was something that was a great fit for each of us."
Tommy Mele and the Wheeling Nailers will begin the 2017-18 season with two road games against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on October 13th and 14th. The home opener at WesBanco Arena takes place on October 21st at 7:05, when the Nailers do battle with the Cincinnati Cyclones. To purchase season, flex, or group tickets, or to get more information on tickets and events, call (304) 234-GOAL.