Nailers Announce Hall of Fame Class

Fans get a glimpse of the 2018-19 hockey team

Photo by Zack Rawson Wheeling Nailers’ defenseman Kevin Spinozzi takes a shot at goalkeeper Danny Tirone during Wednesday’s Gold vs Black scrimmage at WesBanco Arena.

WHEELING — Season Ticket holders were treated to a number of ”scoops” Wednesday night at various points inside WesBanco Arena. The Wheeling Nailers held a Black vs. Gold Scrimmage for fans to get a chance to see in person what mostly is the product Coach Mike Bavis will take to Norfolk this weekend for Saturday’s season-opener against the Admirals.

But the biggest news came off the ice, where the Nailers unveiled a new third, alternate jersey and announced four new members to be inducted into the Wheeling Hockey Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Nov. 3 home opener.

That class includes Ross Felton, Dick Riley, Tim Tisdale, and Zack Torquato.

Those announcements came during the State of the Team portion of the evening, which included among others, Pittsburgh assistant general manager Bill Guerin.

∫ Felton was an important figure in the Wheeling community and was instrumental in bringing professional hockey to the Ohio Valley. He traveled to Winston-Salem to help lead the Thunderbirds to Wheeling, then was part of the ownership group in the late 1990s, who also began the team’s affiliation with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

∫ Riley has been involved in Wheeling hockey since 1969, when his children began playing the sport. He has served on WAHA’s Board of Directors for more than 40 years, and the 2018-19 season will be his 25th as an off-ice official for the Nailers and Thunderbirds.

∫ Tisdale was an original member of the Thunderbirds, arriving in Wheeling in 1992, playing through the end of the 1995-96 season. He remains the team’s all-time leading scorer with 271 career points.

∫ Torquato was given the nickname ”The Mayor” after he spent five seasons in Wheeling, from 2011-16. His 229 games played rank third in team history, and he was a constant in the community while being part of the 2015-16 squad that made a run to the Kelly Cup Final.

The third jersey is similar to the one the parent Pittsburgh Penguins will wear this season. It’s sunflower yellow in color with a Nailers crest.

As for the scrimmage, Team Black scored a 4-2 victory in what was a fast-paced affair. It was broken down into a pair of 17-minute periods with each team receiving predetermined power plays in an effort to work on special teams. Three goalies — Danny Tirone, Matt O’Connor and Evan Cowley — took part.

”We thought it was a real good idea to try to give (the season ticket holders) kind of an early taste of the team,” Bavis said. ”It hopefully makes them feel like they’re a little more a part of it, and it’s certainly a little reward for their commitment to the team and the organization.

”Hockey-wise it’s a little bit hard to play against your own team, per se, to mimic a real game.

”They saw some guys that are going to be playing for us Saturday night, that executed the same things we’re going to do. Hopefully the puck stays out of the net a little bit more.”

Team Black got out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on a goal from defenseman Johnny Austin and two off the stick of forward Tyler Bird. Michael Phillips stopped the bleeding for Team Gold, which scored two of the game’s final three.

Cedric Lacroix tallied for Team Black before defenseman Craig Skudalski finished the scoring.


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