WHEELING, WV- More than a handful of current and former Wheeling Nailers players will be taking the ice about an hour away from the Friendly City on Saturday, as 3ICE brings its exciting weekly tour to Pittsburgh's PPG Paints Arena.
3ICE is made up of six teams, each with six skaters and a goalie, and five of the six teams feature at least one former Nailer. The games consist of two eight-minute halves with a running clock, and are played 3-on-3. Each weekly stop will have six games played - three opening round contests, two semi-finals, and a championship. All six teams play in the opening round, so fans are guaranteed to see each team at least once. Each team is coached by an NHL legend, and Pittsburgh is the sixth of nine stops on the tour.
Team Mullen has had the best success on the tour thus far, as it has posted a 10-3 record and 20 points, led by former Penguin and three-time Stanley Cup Champion Joe Mullen. Former New Jersey Devil Joe Whitney is Team Mullen's top scorer with 12 goals and 24 points, but he is followed closely by former Nailer Tyler Murovich, who has also turned on the red light 12 times. Murovich had three different stints in Wheeling, with his most successful one coming first in 2010-11, when the Nailers reached the Eastern Conference Final. Tyler tallied points in seven of the final 12 regular season games that year, then tacked on three goals and six points in the playoffs. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native also played in Wheeling in 2014-15 and 2017-18 - the last of which concluded his pro career.
Team Trottier is currently in second place with a 5-5 record and nine points, led by former Penguin and seven-time Stanley Cup Champion Bryan Trottier. New Allen Americans Head Coach Chad Costello is the leading scorer for Team Trottier, as he has collected eight goals and 17 points. There are two former Nailers on that team - Cam Brown and Bobby Farnham. Both players have amassed 12 points on the tour, as Brown has netted five goals and Farnham has netted four. Cam was a fan favorite in Wheeling from 2017-20, as he appeared in 149 games and racked up 44 goals, 87 assists, and 131 points. Since his final campaign with the Nailers, the Natick, Massachusetts native has played two seasons in Europe, mostly with Soenderjyske in Denmark. Bobby's time in Wheeling was short, as he made a quick impression, which helped him climb the organizational ladder. The North Andover, Massachusetts native registered three goals and four points in nine games as a Nailer at the start of the 2012-13 season, then got promoted to the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Two seasons later, Farnham made his NHL debut with Pittsburgh, and went on to play in 67 career games at hockey's highest level, while also suiting up with New Jersey and Montréal. Bobby's most recent season was 2019-20, when he played for the EIHL's Belfast Giants.
Third place currently belongs to Team LeClair, which has a 6-5 record and seven points, and is led by John LeClair, who is also a Stanley Cup Champion, as well as a former Penguin. Team LeClair's leading scorer is also the leading scorer on the tour, and that honor goes to former Nailer Brandon Hawkins. After leading the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs in scoring, Hawkins has picked up right where he left off, and has exploded for 16 goals, 13 assists, and 29 points. The Macomb, Michigan native played his rookie season with Wheeling in 2019-20, and finished third on the squad with 16 goals, 17 assists, and 33 points. He has since gone on to have tremendous success in the ECHL, as he won the Kelly Cup with Fort Wayne in 2021, before reaching the final with Toledo this past year. Fellow 2021-22 Walleye forward TJ Hensick is second on Team LeClair with 22 points.
Checking in at the fourth slot is Team Carbonneau at 4-4 and seven points, with two-time Stanley Cup Champion Guy Carbonneau at the helm. Former Penguin Chris Conner and former Canadien Aaron Palushaj are tied for the team lead with 12 points each, while a couple of former Nailers have contributed to this group as well. J.C. Campagna has collected three goals and four points in five games, while Jordon Southorn has come away with two goals in three games. Campagna's time in Wheeling was limited due to injuries, but he was still able to produce two goals and three points in five games. J.C. went on to finish second in the ECHL with 35 goals in 2018-19 as a member of the Fort Wayne Komets, and played last year with the Allen Americans. Southorn joined the Nailers in the second half of the 2011-12 season, and accumulated five points in 22 games. Since his time in Wheeling, Jordon has played for four ECHL teams, two AHL clubs, and has also gone to Europe. This past season, he played in Latvia and the Czech Republic.
The lone team without Wheeling representation is Team Murphy - the fifth place club which is 4-6 and has six points. Former Penguin and four-time Stanley Cup Champion Larry Murphy is behind the bench for the team that has former Nashville Predator Chris Mueller and 2021-22 Kansas City Maverick John Schiavo as its top scorers with 11 points each.
Team Fuhr will be looking to get things rolling after a rough start, which has seen it go 1-7 and earn one point thus far under five-time Stanley Cup Champion Grant Fuhr. Former Nailer Peter Lenes has been the major source of offense for Team Fuhr, as he leads the way with 11 goals and 12 points. Lenes was acquired by Wheeling in a trade with the Trenton Titans during the 2011-12 season, and spent two years with the Nailers. During that time, he amassed 28 goals, 28 assists, and 56 points in 95 games. He played the remainder of his pro career in Europe, before retiring from playing in 2019.
One other familiar name could make his way into a lineup on Saturday, as Tim Doherty is a member of the Taxi Squad. Doherty finished fourth on the Nailers this past season with 17 goals, 28 assists, and 45 points.
Saturday's games begin at 3:00. The opening match will be Team LeClair (Hawkins) vs. Team Mullen (Murovich). They will be followed by Team Murphy vs. Team Carbonneau (Campagna, Southorn). The final opening round tilt will be Team Trottier (Brown, Farnham) vs. Team Fuhr (Lenes). For more information on the event, visit 3ICE.com.