The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, are excited to announce that a 46th former Nailer/Thuderbird has made his National Hockey League debut. Alex Grant reached the NHL on Saturday night, while also scoring a goal, as the Anaheim Ducks visited the San Jose Sharks.
Grant, 24, is in the midst of his fifth professional season, after spending four years in the QMJHL with the Saint John Sea Dogs and Shawinigan Cataractes. Alex began his career with the Nailers during the 2009-10 campaign, and immediately proved himself as a defenseman who could put points on the board, as he accumulated seven goals and 27 points in 40 games as a rookie. That performance earned him 14 games with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, with whom he tallied three goals and five points. Injuries limited Grant to just 18 regular season games between the two levels in 2010-11, but he was healthy enough to suit up for all 17 playoff games, as Wheeling reached the Eastern Conference Final.
Prior to Saturday night, the Antigonish, NS native had spent the remainder of his pro career in the American Hockey League, playing in two full seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, before joining the Norfolk Admirals at the start of 2013-14. In 144 career games at the AHL level, Grant, has amassed 23 goals, 51 assists, 74 points, and 184 penalty minutes. Three of those markers came on October 11th of this season, when he netted his first career hat trick, with all three goals being scored during the first period of a 5-0 win over Binghamton. Alex left the Admirals as their leading scorer this season.
On Saturday, Grant logged 10:10 of ice time, receiving 17 shifts, with his most memorable one coming at the 12:50 mark of the third period, when he swatted home his first NHL goal, bringing Anaheim within one, as the Ducks ultimately rallied back to earn one point. The goal was scored against former Stanley Cup winner Antti Niemi.
Grant became the 46th Nailer/Thunderbird to reach the NHL and second this season, joining fellow Noca Scotian, Zach Sill, who debuted with Pittsburgh.