Nailers, Fletcher Agree

WHEELING – The Wheeling Nailers announced their sixth player signing of the 2013 offseason by inking forward Kyle Fletcher to an ECHL contract.

“Kyle is extremely good at taking face-offs, and should help us up the middle as a big center,” Coach Clark Donatelli said. “I am very happy that he came in last year and played some games for us, because he got better as the games got along and I think that will help to give him more confidence for this season.”

Fletcher, 24, made his ECHL debut with the Nailers on March 20, and proceeded to play in each of the club’s next five games to earn his first taste of professional hockey, following a four-year collegiate career at Holy Cross College. Fletcher registered one assist and eight shots on goal in the five contests, including a team-leading five shots Trenton, on March 22. His assist came in his fifth and final game, March 27, against Elmira.

“I feel like being a centerman is a great way to get noticed and earn the coach’s trust,” Fletcher said. “I pride myself on puck possession, winning face-offs, and being defensively sound. Each guy wants more ice time, especially late in games, and I would like to be that guy. So I am putting that challenge out for myself.”

While with the Crusaders, Fletcher gained a reputation for putting points on the board, as he tallied 33 goals, 49 assists, 82 points, and 67 penalty minutes in 108 games. Kyle’s most productive season came as a sophomore, when he led the team with 38 points. 16 of those being goals, which placed him eighth on the school’s all-time list for most goals in a season in Division I. That performance earned Fletcher the team’s Seventh Player Award, given to the player who performed above expectations.

Prior to college, Kyle spent three seasons in the CJHL with the Kanata Stallions. In 148 games with the Stallions, Fletcher amassed 81 goals, 95 assists, 176 points, and 135 penalty minutes. The Kanata, ON, native experienced his best season with his hometown team in 2008-09, when he was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, while also earning third-team CJHL All-Star honors. That season, he racked up 41 goals, 46 assists, and 87 points in 60 games.

“I got a little bit of a taste when I came in at the end of last season, which makes me feel more comfortable coming into this year,” Fletcher said. “Everyone treated me great, I got good feedback from the coaching staff and from Pittsburgh. I appreciated them bringing me in and treating me well, so it was a no-brainer for me to come back.”

The 2013-14 Wheeling Nailers will hit the ice for their first regular-season game at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, when they play host to the Elmira Jackals at WesBanco Arena.