August 12, 2013 - ECHL (ECHL) - Wheeling Nailers
WHEELING, WV - The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, are pleased to announce their fifth player signing of the 2013 offseason, and second returning player from the 2012-13 squad. Wheeling has signed defenseman Alex Velischek to an ECHL contract.
"Alex is a strong skater, who can make the first pass coming out of his own zone," said Head Coach Clark Donatelli. "He was drafted by the Penguins, came in last year, did a good job in a variety of roles, showed that he was coachable and had a great attitude."
Velischek, 22, followed a similar path to that of Chris Rooney, as both players attended Providence College, before joining the Nailers for the final three games of the 2012-13 campaign. Alex made his professional debut on March 27th, and needed just 17:36 to work his way onto the scoresheet, as he assisted on Paul Crowder's power play goal to open the scoring. Wheeling went on to defeat the Elmira Jackals 6-2 that evening, with Velischek earning second star honors, thanks to the assist, while also being on the ice for four of the six tallies by the home team.
"When I came in last year, I noticed that the pro game is different than the college game in that it's more wide open," Velischek said. "The game is more creative, faster, and the puck moves quicker, so those are the areas that I've been working on this summer."
Prior to turning pro, the Kinnelon, NJ native spent four years at Providence College, where he majored in Political Science. During his time with the Friars, Velischek appeared in 113 games, totaling two goals, 25 assists, 27 points, and 102 penalty minutes, while also earning Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors during his freshman season, being named to the 2012 Hockey East All-Academic Team as a junior, and leading the team with a +17 rating as a senior. In the midst of his sophomore season, Alex also suited up with the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers, where he notched two goals, eight assists, and ten points in 33 games.
"I view myself as a two-way defenseman, who likes to move with the puck," said Velischek. "I am hoping to find my offensive game this year."
Velischek's ties to the organization began in the summer of 2009, when the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the NHL Entry Draft. Alex attended Pittsburgh Penguins Development Camp in both 2011 and 2012.
"Last season, I came out and played three games with the Nailers, and I loved it," Velischek said. "I had a great relationship with Clark Donatelli, as he was my assistant coach at Providence College, so being familiar with him was also one of my deciding factors."
The 2013-14 Wheeling Nailers begin their regular season on Friday, October 18th, when they play host to the Elmira Jackals at 7:00.