It was a hockey night in Wheeling, in fact, it was the very first

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December 25 2021 12:00 am

WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) – On this date (October 18) in 1992, hockey burst onto the scene, in a city that wasn’t familiar with the sport.

The team now known as the Wheeling Nailers started out as the Thunderbirds. They beat the Dayton Bombers in their first-ever game on their new home ice at Wesbanco Arena. The Thunderbirds were actually an established team in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when they pulled out, and moved to the Friendly City.

Greater Wheeling Sports & Entertainment Authority Executive Director Denny Magruder says it was a Sunday night, and the arena was packed to the rafters.

“It was a sold out crowd,” Magruder recalled. “People were filing into the building, most of whom had never ever seen a hockey game. But I just remember it was such a wonderful electric night. It was the beginning of a 30-year love affair for this town. It was a great evening, and it set the stage for where we are today.”

He said the Nailers have won the league championship several times, but never the coveted Kelly Cup. Magruder said maybe this will be the year.

He said the Nailers have sent more players to the NHL than any other team.

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