WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have received five players from their AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and have signed two additional players to ECHL contracts. Defenseman Brett Stern and forward Cody Wydo were returned to Wheeling, after attending training camp with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Penguins loaned forward Christian Hilbrich, as well as defensemen Ryan Segalla and Michael Webster to the Nailers. Wheeling signed forward Gage Quinney and goaltender Greg Lewis, both to ECHL contracts.
Stern, 24, was the lone Nailer to appear in all 98 games during the regular season and playoffs in 2015-16, and was a very well-liked individual among the players and fans during his rookie campaign. Brett took home the club's Player's Player Award, in addition to the Fan Favorite Player of the Year Award. On the ice, the Lino Lakes, Minnesota native played a strong game in his own zone, but also chipped in offensively, as he potted seven goals, 17 assists, and 24 points during the regular season. His first two goals in a Wheeling uniform came on Education Day, including the game winner in an epic 7-5 comeback win over the Cincinnati Cyclones.
Wydo, 25, also had a phenomenal rookie year, as he finished second on the team with 23 goals in the regular season, before leading the squad with 12 markers during Wheeling's playoff run to the Kelly Cup Final. Cody was the lone member of the Nailers to record a hat trick in 2015-16, doing so on March 4th in Reading, which helped pave the way for him to win ECHL Player of the Week and ECHL Rookie of the Month honors. Santander Arena produced another special moment for the Allen Park, Michigan native in the postseason, as his goal in triple overtime of game four snapped a 1-1 deadlock, ending the longest game in team history.
Hilbrich, 24, signed an AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and will make his professional debut this season. Christian spent the last four seasons attending Cornell University, where he studied in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, while suiting up with the Big Red. In four years at Cornell, the Port Credit, Ontario native appeared in 111 games, recording 27 goals, 21 assists, 48 points, and 70 penalty minutes. He had 14 points in each of his final three campaigns, including a career-high ten goals as a junior.
Segalla, 21, is also under AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, as he prepares to make the jump from the college game to the pros. Ryan attended the University of Connecticut for three years, where he majored in Business, while playing for the Huskies. The Boston, Massachusetts native was selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft - the summer before he made his way to UConn. After accumulating 14 points during his freshman year in the AHA, Segalla and the Huskies switched conferences, joining Hockey East, where he got to battle future NHLers, such as Jack Eichel and Frank Vatrano, on a nightly basis.
Webster, 21, played his amateur hockey in the Ontario Hockey League with the Barrie Colts, who won at least one playoff round in each of the four seasons in which he played for them. Michael's point total ramped up as his career went along, as he tallied 11 points as a rookie, 17 points in year two, then 23, and finally 44 points as a 20-year old, which included nine goals, as well as a +31 rating. In 254 games with the Colts, the Toronto, Ontario native totaled 18 goals, 77 assists, and 95 points. In his rookie season of 2012-13, Barrie reached the OHL Final, falling to the London Knights, who reached the semifinal round of the Memorial Cup.
Quinney, 21, joins the pro ranks after playing three full seasons of junior hockey in the Western Hockey League with the Prince Albert Raiders, Kelowna Rockets, and Kamloops Blazers. Gage spent approximately a year and a half with Prince Albert, before being traded to Kelowna, where his 44 points between the regular season and playoffs helped the Rockets win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL Champions. Kelowna ended up reaching the Memorial Cup Final that season, before falling to Oshawa in overtime. Last year, the Las Vegas, Nevada native started with the Rockets, before making his way to Kamloops, where he finished the campaign with 29 goals, 28 assists, and 57 points in 53 games.
Lewis, 25, is turning pro, after completing a four-year collegiate career at Clarkson University, where he majored in General Studies. Greg is coming off of an outstanding senior season, which saw him go 14-9-2, with a 2.04 goals against average and a .925 save percentage with the Golden Knights. Overall, the Mars, Pennsylvania native backstopped 36 victories in the Clarkson cage, posting a goals against average under three in three of his four seasons, while earning a save percentage over .910 in both his junior and senior campaigns.
In a separate transaction, the Nailers released three players - forward Luke Sandler, and defensemen Mike Cornell and Craig Skudalski.
The 25th season of professional hockey in Wheeling is presented by The Healthplan, and begins on Saturday night, when the Nailers play host to the Brampton Beast at 7:05. The Eastern Conference Championship Banner gets raised to the rafters, and alumni such as Doug Sauter, Brock Woods, and Sean Collins will be on hand for the celebration. To purchase tickets, or to get more information on season tickets, mini plans, and group tickets, call the Nailers at (304) 234-GOAL.