Nailers Sign Four Defensemen
Abt & Valente Return to Wheeling, While Couturier & Diffley Prepare to Begin Pro Careers

WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce four player signings for the upcoming season, bringing their total up to 12. Wheeling has signed defensemen Matt Abt, Josh Couturier, Brien Diffley, and Ayrton Valente.

Abt, 25, made his professional debut at the end of last season, when he appeared in 12 games with the Nailers, amassing one goal, five assists, and six points. The Leduc, Alberta native netted his first professional goal in his debut - a 4-3 overtime win against the Reading Royals. Prior to turning pro, Matt attended the Rochester Institute of Technology for four years, where he majored in Management Information Systems while playing for the Tigers. In college, he tallied 14 goals, 40 assists, and 54 points in 139 games.

Couturier, 23, is ready to begin his journey into the professional game, after completing his collegiate career in the spring. The Byfield, Massachusetts native spent one season at Boston College, before transferring to UMass-Amherst to continue playing college hockey, while majoring in Communications. Josh appeared in 72 career NCAA games, notching four goals, 17 assists, and 21 points.

Diffley, 23, is also a rookie, who will take the ice as a pro for the first time in October. The Burlington, Massachusetts native attended Boston University for four years, where he majored in Psychology, while suiting up with the Terriers. Boston University reached the NCAA National Tournament in all four years with Brien in the lineup, and also captured two Hockey East Championships. Diffley's career totals were three goals, 19 assists, and 22 points in 97 games.

Valente, 25, donned a Wheeling uniform to begin his professional career in the spring, as he posted one goal, three assists, and four points in 11 contests, which included a helper in his first career game - a 6-3 road win against the Manchester Monarchs. The Woodbridge, Ontario native also went the college route, attending SUNY-Plattsburgh for four years. While with the Cardinals, Ayrton accumulated 15 goals, 48 assists, and 63 points in 101 games.

"We are excited about this young group of defensemen coming to Wheeling," said Nailers Head Coach Mike Bavis. "We get mobility in almost every guy, plus size and toughness. Each of them should be competing not only for spots in the lineup, but for key minutes as well."

The Wheeling Nailers will begin the 2018-19 season on October 13th, when they visit the Norfolk Admirals. Wheeling's first home game will take place on November 3rd against the Indy Fuel. 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. For information on season tickets, group tickets, flex plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.