WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced that defenseman Adam Smith has elected to leave the team and continue his career in Europe with HC Oceláři Třinec, who plays in the Czech Extraliga, which is the top hockey league in the Czech Republic.
Smith, 26, came to the Nailers just after the start of the 2020-21 season, and spent the majority of the next three campaigns with the club. Adam was a key player both on the ice and in the locker room, as he was part of the team's leadership group and was an alternate captain in two of his three seasons. The Sharon, Ontario native saw his productivity increase each year, and he finished his Wheeling career with 13 goals, 40 assists, 53 points, and a +26 rating in 152 games. Smith earned AHL playing time in each of the last two seasons as well, as he appeared in seven games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, while starting on an ECHL contract. Additionally, he earned the Nailers 2021-22 Community Award.
"We are very thankful for three special seasons with Adam, as he played a major role in helping to change the culture of our team," said Nailers Head Coach Derek Army. "We would have loved to have had him finish this season here with us, but our organization takes pride in helping players advance in their careers, and this will be a big step for him."
Adam joins HC Oceláři Třinec, who is currently ranked fourth in the Czech Extraliga with 67 points. HC Oceláři Třinec is the defending champion, as it defeated Sparta Praha in six games in last year's final. There are five former NHL players on the team's roster - Marko Dano, Jakub Jerabek, Martin Marincin, Marek Mazanec, and Andrej Nestrasil.
"I am so fortunate to have had the privilege of playing for the Wheeling Nailers," Smith said. "Wheeling was always a special place that I was sad to leave and excited to return to. I want to thank Brian Komorowski and Derek Army for helping me develop as a player, a teammate and a person. Only those in it can understand how special the culture they've created is. I'm forever grateful to have gotten to wear the Nailers uniform and play in front of Nailers Army. Wheeling will forever feel like home."
Wheeling has suspended Smith, so that it is able to retain his ECHL rights.
The Nailers will return home this weekend, where they will play five of their next six games. The first of those contests is a Frosty Friday against the Iowa Heartlanders on February 3rd at 7:10. Iowa will be the opponent the next night as well, which is Pups & Pucks Night at 7:10 on February 4th, when fans are invited to bring their dogs to the game. The next Big 6 Promotional Night is also part of this home stretch. That is Pittsburgh Penguins Night, starring Tyler Kennedy, Jean-Sébastien Aubin, and François Leroux. Ticket packages and single game tickets are available for the 2022-23 season by visiting wheelingnailers.com or calling (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.