WHEELING, W Va. – The Wheeling Nailers have announced that Derek Army can remove the interim tag from his title as he is officially the 20th head coach of the Wheeling Nailers. The former Nailer captain took over as the interim coach when Mark French resigned in April. Derek was serving as French’s assistant coach this season.
“Derek’s passion for the City of Wheeling and the Nailers organization is something that we truly cherish, as he is an excellent person to have represent us in the community and he will use that energy in helping to recruit high-quality players,” Nailers President Brian Komoroski said. “We are ecstatic that Derek was able to begin not only his playing career here but his head coaching career as well.”
Army began his playing career with Wheeling in April of 2014 after playing at Providence College. Army scored 29 times as a rookie in 2014-15 instantly becoming a fan favorite. In his second season, Army and the Nailers would reach the Kelly Cup Finals as he scored four times during the playoffs including a go-ahead score in game seven of the second round against Reading and a game-winner in the conference championship round against the South Carolina Stingrays. In 2016-17 Army was named the Nailers Captain as he would split the next two seasons between the AHL and ECHL.
“I am very thankful to Brian, RED, the Nailers and everyone in the Pittsburgh organization for the opportunity. Wheeling has been my second home, and my family and I are thrilled to be a part of a community that has meant so much to me,” Army said. “This season was a great learning experience for me, as it helps to set the foundation for the future. I am excited for the challenges to come, as we look to compete for a Kelly Cup, while developing exciting young players for the Penguins organization.
“I am very excited to continue representing the Nailers and the City of Wheeling. Wheeling has been my second home and my family is very happy to be back. I was able to learn a lot this year. As a young coach and a young team, we continued to establish an identity that will pay dividends as we move into next season. I am excited for the challenges to come, continuing to develop players for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, getting back into the ECHL playoffs, and competing for a Kelly Cup.”
In 2018 the North Kingston, Rhode Island native “hung up the skates” and became an assistant coach, as he followed his father’s footsteps into the coaching profession. Derek’s father Tim Army is currently serving as the head coach of the AHL’s Iowa Wild. Derek’s first stint as an assistant was under Jamie Russell in Worcester. Russell was an assistant at Providence College during Derek’s playing career there. The pair coached parts of two seasons together.
“We are pleased to have Derek back as our head coach for the 2021-22 season. Derek is well regarded in the ECHL and the Wheeling community from his playing career with the Nailers, and we are excited to have him lead the franchise forward,” added Pittsburgh Penguins Manager of Operations Eric Heasley.
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