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Wheeling Nailers season starts Friday

WTOV

The Wheeling Nailers begin the 2017-2018 regular season this weekend.

That comes with some changes for the team and the community.

Nailers hockey is back for another year in the Friendly City. There's plenty in store not just for fans, but the entire community.

On Wednesday night, the Wheeling Nailers held their state of the team address, giving fans and press an inside look at the upcoming season. Bill Guerin, Pittsburgh Penguins associate general manager and a former player, praised Wheeling as a great place for ECHL players.

"When you're talking about young athletes, they want to be in a good environment and excited to play in the games,” Guerin said. “We have that here. The city supports us, the ownership does, the fans do. It's a great atmosphere for the kids to be in."

Nailers head coach Jeff Christian says that getting players involved in the city off of the ice is important, and stresses a greater community presence this year.

“We want gentlemen off the ice and animals on the ice,” Christian said. “We want to get our guys out in the community more. I want the fans to really get to know these guys, like they did with teams of the past."

In addition to expressing thanks to the city of Wheeling, the team also spotlighted its numerous partnerships that make daily operations possible. The Nailers work closely with the regional economic development partnership (RED), responsible for numerous upgrades inside WesBanco Arena.

“It's been good,” said Don Rigby, RED executive director. “We have almost everyone on RED staff involved in some way or another with the Nailers, as well as the city and the Pittsburgh Penguins. We're pleased with our partnerships."

And the partnership is easily visible with new boards, glass and protective netting inside WesBanco Arena, as well as a new change room and showers for the players. They’re upgrades that are appreciated by Christian.

"It goes a long way with these guys,” he said. “We're just trying to do things the right way."

The Nailers kick off their regular season this Friday.

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