WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 2022-23 Season-Opening Roster, as the team prepares to open its 31st season on Saturday night against the Toledo Walleye at WesBanco Arena.
Head Coach Derek Army and Assistant Coach Ryan Kuwabara return for their second season together behind the bench, after a 37-31-4 campaign and a trip to the Central Division Final. Joining them on the Hockey Operations Staff are Equipment Manager Bill Higgins (20th season) and Athletic Trainer Lauren Rittle (1st season).
Starting in goal, the Nailers will begin the season with three netminders on the roster. Tommy Nappier has played in 14 games for Wheeling over the course of the last two seasons, but he enjoyed his best success in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last year, as he won 13 regular season games, then helped the Penguins to a playoff series win over rival Hershey. Ryan Bednard has made lots of noise during his three ECHL seasons in the Palmetto State, with his best performance coming in 2020-21, when he went 20-6-8, and helped the Greenville Swamp Rabbits reach the Eastern Conference Final. Bednard has also appeared in 11 AHL contests with Springfield, Syracuse, and Hershey. Taylor Gauthier signed his first professional contract with Pittsburgh, following an outstanding 20-year old season in the WHL. Gauthier finished tied for fourth in the league with 31 victories.
Moving ahead to the blueline, there are eight defensemen on the opening roster, and four of the eight are returners. Josh Maniscalco was named to the All-ECHL 2nd Team and ECHL All-Rookie Team last season, as he racked up 17 goals, 36 assists, and 53 points. Chris Ortiz also had a stellar campaign on the offensive side of the puck, as he collected 12 goals, 26 points, and 38 points in a Nailers uniform. The two most experienced players on the Wheeling roster are two players who will be relied on heavily to shut down the opposition. Adam Smith is a Nailer for the third straight year, and he is coming off of a +17 rating in 2021-22. David Drake has played in 190 career games between the AHL and ECHL levels, and was acquired last season from Reading to solidify the blueline, as the team made its push toward postseason.
The four new faces on defense are Clay Hanus, Louie Roehl, Davis Bunz, and Dilan Peters. Hanus enjoyed his best season in junior hockey last year, as he exploded for 18 goals, 56 assists, and 74 points in 68 games with the Portland Winterhawks. Roehl is the only player on the team with multiple championships, as he won two NCAA National Titles at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Bunz was a very reliable defender at Providence College, as he appeared in 144 contests in a shutdown role with the Friars. At 6-foot-6, Peters brings lots of size to the Nailers, as he makes the jump to the pro game after attending Lakehead University.
12 forwards will begin the season on the active roster, and similar to the defense, exactly half of them have played for the home team in Nail City before. Cam Hausinger will look to build on his electric rookie year, which saw him light it up with 21 goals, 22 assists, and 43 points in the regular season, before a nine-goal outburst to lead the way in the playoffs. Sean Josling is one of three players entering their third seasons with Wheeling, and last season, he was nearly a point-per-game player, as he notched 33 in 36 ECHL games, while also earning 15 AHL contests with San Diego. Another well-known name back for year three is Tyler Drevitch, who is very popular among Nailers fans for his ability to knock opposing players off of their games. Bobby Hampton and Félix Paré enjoyed their first tastes of pro hockey, as they combined to post 31 points, while adoring themselves to their teammates by playing a variety of roles. Cédric Desruisseaux found a comfortable home in Wheeling, when he was acquired from the Trois-Rivières Lions, and proceeded to collect seven points in his first 11 games with the squad.
The six new faces up front are Carter Johnson, Gianluca Esteves, Brooklyn Kalmikov, Max Johnson, Justin Addamo, and Samuel Tremblay. C. Johnson and Esteves were acquired from the Wichita Thunder in exchange for Dylan MacPherson. Johnson was Wichita's top rookie scorer, and he finished fourth on his team overall with 16 goals, 29 assists, and 45 points. Esteves played his rookie season with the Cincinnati Cyclones, and recorded nine goals, 15 assists, and 24 points. Kalmikov is rolling into the pro game on the heels of a thrilling ending to his junior career. Brooklyn won a QMJHL Championship with Victoriaville in 2020-21, then led Moncton with 76 points a year ago. M. Johnson had a huge college career, as he amassed 129 points over five years at Bowling Green State University and the University of Wisconsin. Addamo is a huge player, as he is 6-foot-6, 250 pounds. After attending Robert Morris University for three years, Justin is coming off of a career season with 14 goals at R.P.I. Tremblay potted 62 points at McGill University, and despite being a rookie, he is the second oldest player on the team at 27.
The Nailers will also begin the season with two forwards on injured reserve - Matthew Quercia and Peter Laviolette III. Quercia scored the biggest goal of the 2021-22 season, as he lit the lamp in overtime of game seven to lift Wheeling to its first playoff series win since 2016. Laviolette is the third Wheeling native to play for the Nailers, as he begins his professional playing career in the same city where his father began his pro coaching career.
Catch all of the action all season long on the Nailers Broadcast Network presented by Main Street Bank. All of the games will air on radio on Mix 97.3 and stream on FloHockey. All home games will air on television on COMET TV. DJ Abisalih returns for his 12th season as the Voice of the Nailers, and is joined on the home broadcasts by third year Color Commentator Isaac Basinger.
The Nailers will open the 2022-23 regular season on Saturday night, when they play host to the Toledo Walleye at 7:10. The ZOOperstars will be performing their hilarious show that families are sure to enjoy throughout the night, with characters such as Squidney Crosby and Mario Lemule. Season memberships, Big 6 ticket plans, and single game tickets are available for the 2022-23 season by visiting wheelingnailers.com or 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.
2022-23 Wheeling Nailers Season-Opening Roster
#11-F-Peter Laviolette III