WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce that a 62nd former Nailer/Thunderbird has made his National Hockey League debut. Casey DeSmith reached the NHL on Sunday night for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who faced the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.
DeSmith appeared in 13 games with the Nailers during the 2015-16 season, posting a 5-2-2 record, a 2.55 goals against average, and a .915 save percentage. That was a unique year for Casey, who made his pro debut with Wheeling on December 5th, but earned his first career win with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on January 3rd. Despite the somewhat limited action at the ECHL level, DeSmith played a pivotal role in helping the Nailers reach the playoffs. Casey won the final two games of the regular season, as the team clinched a postseason berth with the first victory, then locked up fifth place in the Eastern Conference with win number two.
The native of Rochester, New Hampshire joined the AHL Penguins for their 2016 playoff run, winning all three games in the first round against the Providence Bruins, including a double overtime decision in the clincher. Casey has won seven playoff games in two years with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while posting a 26-7-3 mark in 38 regular season appearances. Last season, DeSmith and Tristan Jarry teamed up to win the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award, as the Penguins allowed the fewest goals in the AHL.
On Sunday, DeSmith came into the game in relief of starter Matt Murray, and proceeded to make 12 saves on 15 shots in 41:53 of action. His first career save came off of a shot by Patrik Laine - the second overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. 2012 first round selection Jacob Trouba was the player who got denied by Casey the most, coming up empty on three shots.
Casey DeSmith becomes the 62nd Nailer/Thunderbird to reach the NHL, and the first to do so this season. He is also the first member of the 2015-16 Eastern Conference Championship team to reach hockey's highest level.
The Nailers will return home on Friday night to face the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:05 on a Frosty Friday. The following Friday, November 10th, is Marvel Super Hero Night, when Wheeling wears Captain America jerseys against the Toledo Walleye at 7:05. Fans will be able to meet Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow, while the first 1,000 kids in attendance will receive a free cape. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.