WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their Season Opening Roster for the 2021-22 season - the 30th season of professional hockey in the Ohio Valley.
Head Coach Derek Army and Assistant Coach Ryan Kuwabara begin their first full season together with a roster of 26 players, consisting of 14 forwards, ten defensemen, and two goaltenders.
Starting in the crease, both netminders are returning players, and both hail from the same province - Québec. Alex D'Orio enters his third season in the Penguins organization, and is coming off a stellar second half of the 2020-21 campaign, as he posted a 6-3-1 record in 11 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He is joined by Louis-Philip Guindon, who had a .903 save percentage in five games as a Nailer to close out his rookie season.
On the blueline, Dylan MacPherson and Adam Smith are both entering their third pro seasons, and will be counted on heavily for their leadership, as well as playing a big role in keeping the opposition off of the scoreboard. Jesse Lees hopes to pick up where he left off last season, when he became the sixth rookie defenseman in team history to score double digit goals in a season. A couple of other blueliners will be looking for continued success in their second seasons, as Matt Miller and Matt Foley are back in Nail City. Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lended a helping hand with two defensemen, as Josh Maniscalco is under NHL contract, while Chris Ortiz is under AHL contract. Maniscalco got his pro career started last year by playing in eight games with the AHL Pens. Alex Stevens will make his professional debut out of Penn State University, while Jake Flegel and Josh Victor add lots of size to the back end, as they make their returns to the ECHL.
Up front, the Nailers return two major contributors to last year's offense, as Patrick Watling was tied for the team lead with 48 points, while Matt Alfaro finished fourth among ECHL rookies with 41 points. Sean Josling finished his rookie campaign with a bang by recording a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in the season finale. Tim Doherty also had his first year of pro hockey end successfully, as he collected seven goals in 14 games in a Wheeling uniform. Tyler Drevitch has quickly become a fan favorite, and is ready to get under the skin of more Central Division foes in season two. Brendan Harris and Jared Cockrell both still qualify as rookies, but both gained valuable experience at the conclusion of last season. There is a decent number of forwards who have played in the ECHL before, as Nick Hutchison played for Indy last season, Brandon Saigeon played one season for Utah, Matt Ustaski has played for four different teams, and AHL contract Shaw Boomhower was a Cincinnati Cyclone for two years. Joining all of them will be three forwards making their pro debuts - Cam Hausinger, Felix Paré, and Bobby Hampton.
The team has also selected its captains for the season. Dylan MacPherson will be the captain for all of the games, and Matt Alfaro will be an alternate captain for all of the games. Patrick Watling will be an alternate captain for all home games, and Adam Smith will be an alternate captain for all road games.
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.
2021-22 Wheeling Nailers#2 D Dylan MacPherson#4 D Jake Flegel#5 D Matt Miller#6 D Adam Smith#7 D Matt Foley#8 D Jesse Lees#9 F Tim Doherty#10 D Alex Stevens#11 D Josh Victor#12 F Nick Hutchison#14 F Jared Cockrell#15 F Shaw Boomhower#16 F Cam Hausinger#17 F Brandon Saigeon#18 D Chris Ortiz#19 F Félix Paré#21 F Matt Alfaro#22 F Patrick Watling#23 F Brendan Harris#24 D Josh Maniscalco#25 F Bobby Hampton#26 F Matt Ustaski#27 F Sean Josling#33 G Alex D'Orio#35 G Louis-Philip Guindon#41 F Tyler Drevitch