WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, held their annual State of the Team Event on Wednesday night at WesBanco Arena. The 2018-19 team played in a scrimmage, then met their fans, before the program took place, highlighted by a new alternate jersey for the upcoming season, in addition to the announcement of the four newest members of the Wheeling Hockey Hall of Fame.
The team was separated into Black and Gold for the scrimmage, and Team Black came skated away victorious with a 4-2 decision. Tyler Bird led the way with two goals for Team Black, while Johnny Austin and Cedric Lacroix also chipped into the offensive attack. Team Gold got its tallies from Michael Phillips and Craig Skudalski.
The State of the Team program featured Pittsburgh Penguins Associate General Manager Bill Guerin, Wheeling Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis, and Wheeling Nailers Director of Business Operations Jason Rine. Rine announced the four newest members of the Wheeling Hockey Hall of Fame, who will be inducted in a ceremony on Opening Night - Saturday, November 3rd. The inductees are Ross Felton, Dick Riley, Tim Tisdale, and Zack Torquato.
Ross Felton was a very important part of the Wheeling community, and was also instrumental in bringing professional hockey to the Ohio Valley. He traveled to Winston-Salem to help lead the Thunderbirds to Wheeling, then was part of the ownership group in the late 1990's, who also began the team's affiliation with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dick Riley has been involved in Wheeling hockey since 1969, when his children began playing the sport. He has served on WAHA's Board of Directors for over 40 years, and the 2018-19 season will be his 25th as an off-ice official for the Nailers and Thunderbirds. Tim Tisdale was an original member of the Thunderbirds, arriving in Wheeling in 1992, playing through the end of the 1995-96 season. He remains the team's all-time leading scorer with 271 career points. Zack Torquato spent five seasons in Wheeling, from 2011-16. His 229 games played rank third in team history, and he was a constant in the community, while being part of the 2015-16 squad that made the run to the Kelly Cup Final.
Before announcing the 2018-19 team, the alternate jerseys were unveiled. This season's alternate jerseys follow a similar model to that of the Pittsburgh Penguins, utilizing Sunflower Yellow as the primary color. The circular Wheeling Nailers logo is located on the crest of the jerseys, while the shoulders are identical to the team's main jerseys, with Pittsburgh's logo displayed on the left shoulder, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins logo on the right shoulder. The Nailers will wear their alternate jerseys for the home opener.
The Wheeling Nailers will begin the 2018-19 regular season on October 13th, when they visit the Norfolk Admirals. Wheeling's first home game will take place on November 3rd against the Indy Fuel. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley. For information on season tickets, group tickets, flex plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.