WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their roster for the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The roster consists of 23 current players and one open spot for one of four eligible players who are currently in the American Hockey League. The current roster consists of 13 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goaltenders.
In goal, Louis-Philip Guindon was the go-to guy down the stretch, as he played in 12 of the team's final 14 games. He posted a 5-1-1 record in April, and allowed three goals or less in seven of his last nine appearances. Guindon finished his second pro season with a 9-5-2 ECHL record, and also earned the opportunity to play in four AHL games with the Laval Rocket. Alex D'Orio will get his first taste of postseason action in his third pro season, after collecting 12 wins between the AHL and ECHL this season. D'Orio went 5-4-0 in 11 games with Wheeling, but is currently with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The blueline has a terrific mix of experienced shutdown defensemen, as well as young and powerful offensive players. Captain Dylan MacPherson returned to the lineup in late March, and his presence on the ice made a clear impact, as the team posted a winning record with him back. Adam Smith had a career year offensively, as he racked up 23 points, while leading the team with 66 games played and a +17 rating. David Drake was acquired midseason from the Reading Royals to solidify the back end, and he did exactly that, as he finished even or better in 31 of 40 games with Wheeling and chipped in with seven assists. Josh Maniscalco was a member of the All-ECHL 2nd Team and the ECHL All-Rookie Team, as he amassed 17 goals, 36 assists, and 53 points to lead all first year defensemen. His 17 goals were tied for the third most in a season by a Nailers blueliner. Fellow rookie Chris Ortiz also reached double digits in goals, as the 21-year old enjoyed a stellar first pro season with 12 goals, 26 assists, 38 points, and a +11 rating. Matt Foley had the most AHL time among the eight defensemen, as he suited up in 18 games with the Tucson Roadrunners and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, while also contributing six points in 24 games with Wheeling. Luke Bafia was a late season acquisition from the Newfoundland Growlers, who registered five assists and a +7 rating in nine contests. Bo Hanson came to the Nailers after completing his college season at Northern Michigan University and tallied two assists in his first nine pro games.
Offensively, the Nailers turned on the red light 243 times this season, so there are plenty of goals on the roster. Patrick Watling earned All-ECHL 1st Team honors, as he finished fourth in the league with 31 goals, 46 assists, and 77 points. He was the first Wheeling player to score two hat tricks in the same season since 2010-11, which included his second career four-goal game. Justin Almeida also had a big year on the offensive side of things, as he finished with 28 goals, 35 assists, and 63 points, while also lighting the lamp four times in a game. AHL contract Sam Houde played just under half of the season with the Nailers, but he made the most of that time, as he ended up slightly behind Watling with 1.39 points per game, as he racked up 43 points in 31 games, led by a six-point night in December. Tied with Houde for the team lead among rookie forwards with 43 points was Cam Hausinger, whose 21st goal of the season was the game winner in the playoff clincher at Kalamazoo. Tim Doherty built off of a strong rookie season to finish fourth on the club in scoring with 17 goals, 28 assists, and 45 points, with 28 of his 45 points coming during the final three months of the campaign. Sean Josling spent the majority of the first half of the season with the AHL's San Diego Gulls, but returned to Wheeling ready to light it up, as he notched 14 goals, 19 assists, and 33 points in 36 contests. Shaw Boomhower filled up all of the stat categories, as he produced 13 points in 31 games, while leading the squad with 127 penalty minutes. Jared Cockrell earned the praise of his teammates by winning the Players' Player Award, after tallying 13 goals, 13 assists, and 26 points in his rookie season. Félix Paré put 14 points on the board in his first year as a pro, and the team was nine games over .500 with him in the lineup - the highest number among forwards. Bobby Hampton worked extremely hard from the outset, as he came to training camp with a tryout, and turned that into 17 points in 50 games. Tyler Drevitch was one of three Nailers to hit the 100-penalty minute mark, while he upped his offensive totals from his first year. Matthew Quercia got his pro career rolling with seven points in 19 games, after playing the first part of the season at Michigan Tech. Cédric Desruisseaux opened the year with 23 points in 39 games with the Trois-Rivières Lions, before the AHL's Laval Rocket loaned him to Wheeling, where he immediately hit his stride with seven points in 11 games.
The Nailers placed four players on their Playoff Eligible List, as these four players are currently in the AHL, but one of them could be utilized to fill the final open roster spot. Goaltender Tommy Nappier and defenseman Niclas Almari are currently with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, forward Matt Alfaro is currently with the Abbotsford Canucks, and forward Nick Hutchison is currently with the Manitoba Moose.
The 2022 Central Division Semifinal Series between the Wheeling Nailers and Fort Wayne Komets will begin at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Friday and Saturday, before heading to WesBanco Arena on April 27th, 29th, and 30th (if necessary). All home games will begin at 7:10. The Nailers want you to join #NailersArmy and get your playoff tickets now by visiting wheelingnailers.com or by calling (304) 234-GOAL.
Roster2 D Dylan MacPherson3 D Luke Bafia6 D Adam Smith7 D Matt Foley8 D David Drake9 F Tim Doherty13 F Matthew Quercia14 F Jared Cockrell15 F Shaw Boomhower16 F Cam Hausinger18 D Chris Ortiz19 F Félix Paré20 F Justin Almeida22 F Patrick Watling23 F Cédric Desruisseaux24 D Josh Maniscalco25 F Bobby Hampton27 F Sean Josling33 G Alex D'Orio35 G Louis-Philip Guindon36 F Sam Houde39 D Bo Hanson41 F Tyler Drevitch
Eligible Players in the AHL12 F Nick Hutchison21 F Matt Alfaro37 G Tommy Nappier38 D Niclas Almari