WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced that Clark Donatalli has been named the new head coach for the American Hockey League’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Donatelli, 50, came to the Nailers organization at the start of the 2011-12 season, serving as an assistant coach under Stan Drulia. In December of that year, Drulia was promoted to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, opening the door for Clark to take over as interim head coach. The first year bench boss finished the campaign six games over .500, leading the club to its 11th playoff appearance, while helping to secure his position as head coach for future seasons. In 2013-14, the Providence, Rhode Island native got his first taste of postseason success, when Wheeling swept the South Carolina Stingrays, following a 39-win regular season – the club’s highest win total since 2005-06. Last year, Donatelli led the Nailers to yet another winning season, as the team went 37-33-2, before nearly pulling off an upset over Brabham Cup Champion Toledo in the opening round of the playoffs. This season’s squad has gotten off to a 14-10-3 mark, good for 31 points and second place in the North Division.
“We are extremely thankful for all of the hard work that Clark put in here in Wheeling, as he has helped to make this city into a premier destination for players to come play professional hockey,” said Nailers Governor Don Rigby. “We are sure he will do an outstanding job at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and hope that all three teams in the organization can achieve the goal of winning championships.”
Over the course of his five years with the Nailers, Donatelli posted a record of 147-119-32 in 298 regular season games as head coach. The 147 wins and 298 games both stand as the most in the 24-year history of professional hockey in Wheeling. Clark’s teams achieved winning records in all five seasons with him behind the bench, while reaching the playoffs in three of the four campaigns.
“I am very excited to get the opportunity to be the head coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, as I advance in my coaching career,” said Nailers Head Coach Clark Donatelli. “I really enjoyed my five years in Wheeling, meeting some wonderful people, while getting the chance to work for a first class organization.”
Jay Leach will remain on staff with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, serving as Associate Head Coach. David Gove will serve as Interim Head Coach for the Nailers, while the team conducts its search for its new head coach.