The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, are excited to announce their first player signing of the 2014 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed forward Patrick McGrath to an ECHL contract.
McGrath, 21, returns to Wheeling for his second season of professional hockey, after appearing in 45 regular season games and six playoff tilts with the Nailers in 2013-14. Although he registered his first career point with an assist on March 28th, Patrick’s reputation was that of a physical player, as his team-leading 18 fighting majors (tied for second most in the league) helped Wheeling finish third in the ECHL with 60 altercations. In addition, the Wilkes-Barre, PA native racked up 176 penalty minutes, while also taking home the Riesbeck’s Food Markets Fan Choice Player of the Year Award.
“Patrick McGrath is a fierce competitor, who brings enthusiasm and toughness to our lineup,” said Nailers Head Coach Clark Donatelli. “The guys in the room like him, because he works his tail off, he’s humble, and he is a great teammate, who will back everyone up. He is also a fan favorite, because he’s tough and he works hard, which are qualities that our fans really appreciate,” he said.
Prior to turning pro, McGrath spent two seasons playing junior hockey in Prince Edward Island with the MHL’s Summerside Western Capitals and QMJHL’s P.E.I. Rocket. Once again, the spirited forward found himself near or at the top of column four, as his 186 penalty minutes were fourth in the MHL in 2011-12, while his 29 fighting majors and 171 penalty minutes both ranked first in the QMJHL in 2012-13. Patrick tallied two goals, six points, and 415 penalty minutes in 93 career games at the junior level.
“I am looking forward to returning to the Nailers, as I continue to further my development, while keeping moving forward in hopes of getting to the next level,” said McGrath. “The support we received from the whole city of Wheeling last season was great. Everyone was involved and supportive of our team, and inside the room, our coaching staff and team were a tight-knit group,” he said.
The Wheeling Nailers will open the 2013-14 regular season on Saturday, October 18th at 7:35, when they play host to the Reading Royals (whom McGrath had six fights and 42 penalty minutes against).