WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced three additions to their roster, which all take effect immediately. Wheeling has received forward Derek Army on loan from the Tucson Roadrunners and forward Reid Gardiner on loan from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, while signing defenseman Ayrton Valente to an amateur tryout.
Army, 26, was involved in an American Hockey League trade on Monday, as he was dealt from the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators affiliate) to the Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona Coyotes affiliate). Tucson then proceeded to loan Derek to the only ECHL team he has played for during his five-year professional career, as he returns to the Nailers. The North Kingstown, Rhode Island native appeared in 21 games with Wheeling at the start of the season, accumulating nearly one point per game, as he tallied seven goals, 12 assists, and 19 points. He then suited up in 22 games with Milwaukee, recording one goal, four assists, and five points. Army has had great success in his career with the Nailers, racking up 59 goals, 70 assists, and 129 points in 154 games. Derek has served as the team captain in two seasons, while being a fan favorite in the community.
Gardiner, 22, recently played in his first ten AHL games of the season for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, skating away with one goal, two assists, and three points. Reid has enjoyed phenomenal success during his first season with the Nailers, as he leads the team with 26 goals, while adding 18 assists for 44 points in 42 games. The Humboldt, Saskatchewan native will be looking to pick up where he left off before his recall to the AHL, when he had points in nine straight games for Wheeling. If he can notch a point on Wednesday, he will compile his second ten-game point streak of the season. In addition to leading the club in goals, Gardiner also leads the way with seven game winning markers, and his 11 multiple point games are tied for second. Reid has 30 goals, 23 assists, and 53 points in 75 career pro matches.Valente, 24, is the third amateur player signed by the Nailers this season, following in the footsteps of Kyle Thacker and Dylan Vander Esch, who both made their professional debuts on Sunday against Adirondack. Valente recently completed his collegiate career at SUNY-Plattsburgh, where he suited up with the Cardinals for four seasons. Ayrton appeared in 101 NCAA contests, totaling 15 goals, 48 assists, and 63 points. His best year was his junior campaign, when he produced six goals and 21 points in 26 contests. Prior to going to school, the Woodbridge, Ontario native played parts of five seasons in the OJHL.
The Wheeling Nailers will play game four of their six-game road trip on Wednesday night, when they visit the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00. Wheeling's next home game is Education Day Game #2 against the Worcester Railers on March 7th at 10:45 a.m. That will be followed by Ladies Night and a Frosty Friday on March 9th at 7:05, and Pittsburgh Penguins Night on March 10th at 7:05. On Pittsburgh Penguins Night, fans can see the Stanley Cup, the first 2,500 fans will receive a Carter Rowney bobblehead, and the Nailers will wear special jerseys. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.