WHEELING, W.Va – The Wheeling Nailers, ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, announced the team has signed forwards Tyler Bird, Yushiroh Hirano, Andrew Schmit and Bryan Sienerth for the 2018-19 season.
Bird, 22, was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fifth round (137th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, before attending Brown University for four years. The Andover, Massachusetts native appeared in 120 games with the Bears, compiling 35 points (22g-13a). He missed just four games during his entire collegiate career.
Hirano, 23, will become the second Japanese player in Wheeling’s professional hockey history, joining Hiroyuki Miura, who played in six games for the Thunderbirds in 1993-94. This will be Hirano’s second time playing in North America, as he finished third in scoring with 46 points for the United States Hockey League’s Youngstown Phantoms during the 2015-16 campaign. Since then, the Tomakomai, Japan native has spent time with the Tohoku Free Blades in his home country, as well as Kalmar HC in Sweden.
Schmit, 27, will be entering his second ECHL season and third as a pro. The Grafton, Wisconsin native dished out three assists in 10 games with the Nailers last season, giving him six assists in 28 ECHL games overall with Wheeling and Indy. He attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Miami University (Ohio), before starting his professional career with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Pensacola Ice Flyers in 2016-17.
Sienerth, 22, is coming off of his best collegiate season, as he prepares to make the jump to the professional level. The Erie, Pennsylvania native attended college in his hometown at Mercyhurst University, where he skated with the Lakers for four seasons. Last year, he racked up 26 points (10g-16a) in 33 games, giving him a career total of 35 points (13g-22a) in 81 games.