WHEELING - The Wheeling Nailers announced Wednesday that they have signed their sixth player for the upcoming season in forward Chaz Johnson.
Johnson, 30, returns for his second season with the Nailers, as well as his 10th season of professional hockey, after appearing in his 500th career game during the 2013-14 campaign. In 64 games with Wheeling, Johnson posted 13 goals, 21 assists, 34 points and 152 penalty minutes, with 10 of his 13 goals coming against the current North Division. His most productive contest came in his return to Elmira on Nov. 15, when he netted a hat trick in a 5-1 Nailers victory against his club from the prior season.
The Montreal, QC native had an especially strong finish to the year, racking up an eight-game point streak during March and April, before tallying a pair of goals in the playoffs.
"Chaz Johnson is a terrific leader on and off of the ice, and is a great player to have to show our young guys how to be a pro," Nailers coach Clark Donatelli said. "On the ice, he is a fierce competitor who demands a lot of respect, and off of the ice, he does a great job in the community, which creates a great connection with our fans. Being able to sign veteran players like Chaz is a great tribute to our ownership, as it allows us to change the culture of hockey in Wheeling."
Johnson has spent the first nine years of his career in the AHL, ECHL, and UHL, suiting up in 537 games, while totaling 145 goals, 144 assists, 289 points, and 1336 penalty minutes. Johnson has reached the 20-goal plateau in four of those seasons, with the most recent occurring in 2011-12, when he was a member of the Chicago Express. The 6-foot-1 forward has also appeared in 61 career playoff games, taking home the United Hockey League's Colonial Cup in 2006-07 with the Rockford IceHogs.
"I respect the Wheeling organization because they are a team that shows so much respect and takes great care of their players, so it was a no-brainer for me to come back," Johnson said. "Last season was a good season, and I feel like we could have made a lot more noise at the end. We have a great core of guys coming back, so the chemistry will already be set, which will make it a lot easier.
"Wheeling is a great spot to play. I met lots of great people last year and I can't wait to get back and see everyone soon."
Johnson and the Nailers will open the 2014-15 regular season at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18 when they clash with the Reading Royals at WesBanco Arena. Season tickets are available, starting as low as $10 for adults and $8 for kids. For tickets and more information, call the Nailers at (304) 234-GOAL.