WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their third player signing of the 2021 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed defenseman Jesse Lees to an ECHL contract.
Lees, 25, was first acquired by the Nailers in a March trade with the South Carolina Stingrays, and his numbers increased drastically following the trade. Jesse amassed ten goals, six assists, and 16 points in 27 games with the Nailers, and became just the fifth rookie defenseman in team history to reach double digits in goals. The ten goals came in a span of 15 games, starting on April 9th - just two weeks after he had debuted with the club. 2020-21 served as the blueliner's rookie season, despite the fact that he appeared in nine games with South Carolina at the end of the 2019-20 campaign. In his pro career, Lees has 14 goals, 13 assists, and 27 points in 54 games.
"We were excited when we got Jesse Lees in the trade from South Carolina, and he quickly became an important piece to our team," said Nailers Head Coach Derek Army. "We will count on him to be a strong offensive player, who also plays well in his own end."
Prior to turning pro, the Calgary, Alberta native attended Mount Royal University in Calgary, where he majored in Health & Physical Education, while playing for the Cougars. Lees enjoyed great success at school, as he ranked first on his team in defensive scoring all four years, and even led the entire team with 26 points in 26 games in 2017-18. He was named to an end of season USports (West) all-star team on three occasions, and was named to the USports All-Rookie Team in 2016-17. Additionally, Jesse played parts of six seasons of junior hockey in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Prince Albert Raiders.
"Wheeling was huge for me, because I was able to get my opportunity to step in, play big minutes, and get my game back on track," Lees said. "We made a push in the right direction at the end of the year, and we have a strong core group of players coming back, which should help us get back into the playoffs."
Jesse Lees and the Wheeling Nailers will begin the team's 30th season in Fort Wayne on October 23rd, before the team plays its home opener against the Komets on Saturday, November 6th at 7:10. Season memberships are available, and fans can get more information by calling (304) 234-GOAL. 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.