WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their 2017 training camp roster. The roster consists of 28 players - 15 forwards, ten defensemen, and three goaltenders.
In comparison to prior seasons, the 2017 edition of Wheeling Nailers Training Camp is significantly more experienced. The average age of the team is 25 years old, and 21 of the 28 players have played at the ECHL level or higher. Four of the remaining seven have played professionally in the SPHL. Ten of the 28 are returning players from the 2016-17 campaign.
Danny Fick is the defenseman who has spent the most time in Wheeling, having appeared in 122 regular season games and 26 postseason contests. Last spring, Danny got his first taste of AHL action, suiting up in two games with the San Antonio Rampage. Joining Fick as a returning player on the blueline is Kevin Schulze, who earned ECHL All-Rookie Team and All-ECHL Second Team honors last season, after racking up 60 points in 68 games. Ross McMullan is the third and final returning defenseman, as he recorded nine points during his rookie season.
Up front, all three top scoring forwards from 2016-17 return, as Cody Wydo, Nick Sorkin, and Garrett Meurs combined to pile up 172 points, with Wydo's 30-goal, 60-point campaign leading the way, followed by 25 goals from Meurs and 43 assists from Sorkin. Wydo is entering his third full season with the Nailers and fourth overall. Toward the end of the regular season, Wheeling fans got their first looks at rookies Daniel Leavens and Riley Bourbonnais, who both posted five goals and eight points, while playing in seven and ten games respectively. Johnny Daniels had one of the most memorable moments of the year, when he scored a hat trick in 57 seconds. Daniels sheds the rookie tag, after appearing in 28 ECHL contests. Alexandre Carrier is the final returning forward, as he enters his sixth professional season, bringing an element of physicality to the lineup.
Turning to the new faces, the Nailers are starting the preseason with three veterans (260 or more professional games). Defenseman Benjamin Dieudé-Fauvel is a native of Bordeaux, France, and is set to begin his ninth professional season in North America. Dieudé-Fauvel has 447 games of experience in the AHL, ECHL, and CHL, and spent last season with the Elmira Jackals and Missouri Mavericks. Forward Kenny Ryan scored 15 goals and 35 points for three teams last season, and brings four full years of AHL experience to the table from the Toronto and Colorado organizations. Defenseman Dan Milan was a member of the Fort Wayne Komets last season, who finished with the fourth highest point total in the ECHL. Milan is a defensive defenseman, who has amassed over 500 penalty minutes in his five-year professional career. Defenseman Zach Tolkinen hasn't reached veteran status yet, but his 210 professional games add even more experience in the defensive zone, which is expected to be a large area of improvement for the team this season.
Among the notable new names to the squad is forward Hunter Fejes, who tallied 18 goals and 38 points with the Rapid City Rush last season, while also playing in 19 AHL tilts with the Tucson Roadrunners. Goaltender Colin Stevens is a former national champion at Union College, and has 25 ECHL wins in two seasons with the Manchester Monarchs and Tulsa Oilers. Forward Cam Brown appeared in nine regular season games and four playoff contests with the Adirondack Thunder, after finishing his college career at the University of Maine, and forward Reid Gardiner played in 23 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, before completing his junior hockey career with the WHL's Kelowna Rockets. Defenseman Jake Bolton has appeared in 62 games with the Atlanta Gladiators and Wichita Thunder, while defenseman Chris Joseph and goaltender Ryan De Melo have also seen time in the ECHL. The four players with SPHL experience are forwards Jeremy Beirnes, Ryan Marcuz, and Mitch Vandergunst, as well as defenseman Craig Skudalski. Forward Bryan Arneson, defenseman John Ulichney, and goaltender Will King will get their first tastes of professional hockey, after completing their college careers.
The Wheeling Nailers will play two preseason games this weekend, both against the Cincinnati Cyclones at WesBanco Arena. The first game is on Friday at 7:05 and the second game is on Sunday at 5:05. The regular season opens on the road for Wheeling, who will visit the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on October 13th and 14th. The Nailers will then return for their home opener against Cincinnati on October 21st at 7:05, featuring a pregame fan fest and a performance by the band "Hit Play." To purchase tickets, or for more information on season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.
2017 Wheeling Nailers Training Camp RosterF Bryan ArnesonF Jeremy BeirnesD Jake BoltonF Riley BourbonnaisF Cam BrownF Alexandre CarrierF Johnny DanielsG Ryan De MeloD Benjamin Dieudé-FauvelF Hunter FejesD Danny FickF Reid GardinerD Chris JosephG Will KingF Daniel LeavensF Ryan MarcuzD Ross McMullanF Garrett MeursD Dan MilanF Kenny RyanD Kevin SchulzeD Craig SkudalskiF Nick SorkinG Colin StevensD Zach TolkinenD John UlichneyF Mitch VandergunstF Cody Wydo