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Wheeling Nailers Sign Former NHL Goal Scorer

January 13, 2009 - ECHL (ECHL) - Wheeling Nailers News Release

WHEELING, WV - WHEELING, WV - The Wheeling Nailers, the ‘AA' affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, have signed free agent right wing Shane Willis, it was announced today by team President Jim Brooks. As per club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Willis will serve the Nailers as a player and as an assistant coach, the latter of which is a first-time role for the 6-foot-1, 195-pound former NHL 20-goal scorer. His extensive experience and desire to compete at a high level of competition were attractive to the Nailers.

"It gives us some experience," said Nailers coach Greg Puhalski. "He is a player with NHL experience, and I think that's something that can be of use to us."

Willis was originally selected 56th overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was later selected 88th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Willis played in seven games during the 1998-99 season with the Hurricanes. In 1999, he won the Dudley "Red" Garrett memorial Award, which is given to the top rookie in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Willis scored 20 goals and recorded 24 assists in 73 games with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2000-01 season. He scored seven goals and 10 assists in 59 games during the 2001-02 season.

Willis has been out of professional hockey since 2007, when he was injured in the first game of the season while playing with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. He is excited for the opportunity he has with the Nailers.

"It feels good to be back in the locker room with the guys and back on the ice," Willis said after Tuesday morning's practice at WesBanco Arena.

Willis believes he will be able to call on his 14 years of professional playing experience to help the younger Nailers players and, during games, his approach will be steadfast.

"During games I'm just going to play," Willis said. "[The Nailers] are in first place for a reason, and I'm happy to be part of that."

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