WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are celebrating the success of their organization for the second straight season. The Penguins captured the Stanley Cup on Sunday night, defeating the Nashville Predators 2-0 at Bridgestone Arena. Former Nailers Carter Rowney, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Josh Archibald were all members of the championship team.
Sunday night's championship was Pittsburgh's fifth, which is tied for the most in NHL history for a team not in the Original Six. It is the fourth time that Wheeling's affiliate has been the Stanley Cup Champion, with the previous three winners being the 1993 Montreal Canadiens, 2009 Penguins, and 2016 Penguins. Over the past two seasons, the Pittsburgh organization has won two championships (both Pittsburgh), reached the final three times (Pittsburgh twice, Wheeling once), won a regular season championship (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), and earned 54 playoff victories (Pittsburgh 32, Wheeling 14, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 8). The 54 wins are the most for any organization during that time period, followed by Washington (53) and San Jose (47).
The 2017 Stanley Cup Championship was the most taxing of Pittsburgh's five, as they needed 25 games to secure the 16 wins, including a pair of decisive game seven triumphs over Washington and Ottawa during the run through the Eastern Conference. The last championship club to win multiple game sevens was the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, who won three, and needed 26 games to take home the title. The organization is 5-2 in deciding games over the last two years.
Tom Kuhnhackl gets his name etched on the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row. He joins Daniel Carcillo as the only two former Nailers to earn that honor twice. Kuhnhackl was limited to 11 playoff games due to injury, but appeared in 57 regular season games during his second campaign in the NHL. Tom registered one goal and one assist in the postseason - both during the opening series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Landshut, Germany native played in parts of two seasons with the Nailers, most notably in 2013-14, when he scored six playoff goals, helping to lead the team to the Eastern Conference Semifinal.
Carter Rowney completed his memorable rookie season with a championship, suiting up in 20 of the 25 postseason matches. Ironically, Rowney made his NHL debut against the Predators on January 31st at PPG Paints Arena. He notched his first NHL point five days later in St. Louis, and scored his first NHL goal on March 17th against New Jersey. Carter's biggest playoff performance came in game five of the Eastern Conference Final against the Senators, when he dished out three assists, and was named the first star of the game. The Grand Prairie, Alberta native played parts of two seasons in Wheeling from 2013-15, racking up 51 points in 44 games. During this year's playoff run, Carter and his wife Danielle became parents to a baby boy, Anders.
Josh Archibald got his first taste of the NHL with one game last season, but this year, he got to be part of the run. Archibald appeared in four games during the playoffs, with the most significant being game four of the Stanley Cup Final, which guaranteed that his name would be included on the trophy. Josh netted three goals in ten games during the regular season for Pittsburgh, including a two-goal contest at Arizona in his season debut on February 11th. The Regina, Saskatchewan native was a Nailer for nine games during the 2014-15 campaign, when he collected seven goals, four assists, and 11 points.
Historically, six former Nailers players have won the Stanley Cup, as Rowney and Archibald join Kuhnhackl, Scott Darling, David Aebischer, and Daniel Carcillo. Three former Wheeling staff members have also had the opportunity to hoist hockey's most glorious trophy - Peter Laviolette, Tom McVie, and Dave Goucher. Former Nailers Head Coach Clark Donatelli participated in the festivities for the second consecutive year.
Wheeling could have a champion at all three levels this season, as Casey Pierro-Zabotel won the Kelly Cup for the Colorado Eagles, and Ben Street is one win away from a Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The 2017-18 season of Wheeling Nailers Hockey will begin on the road, when the team visits Greenville for a two-game series on October 13th and 14th. The home opener takes place on October 21st, when the Nailers host the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:05. For more information, call (304) 234-GOAL.