Dennis Sievers/Peoria Rivermen
In his third professional season, 25-year-old Nick Wheeler has brought a little bit of everything to Peoria’s inaugural SPHL roster.
“I’m here for whatever the team needs,” Wheeler said. “I want to be the guy who can step in anywhere and make a difference.”
It has shown.
Wheeler’s versatility this season has already led to four goals and three assists, along with 18 penalty minutes, which ties him for fourth on the club’s active roster. In addition, the Nashua, New Hampshire native has played both forward and defense this year, and has added a physical presence despite coming in at just 5-foot-8, 175-pounds.
On November 16, he was slashed in the face at Fayetteville and suffered a broken nose after getting mixed up with several FireAntz in the corner. That injury hasn’t kept him out, however, as Wheeler has appeared in all 16 contests for the Rivermen and has no intentions of slowing down.
"I hate missing games," Wheeler said. "Unless it's something that will affect the team, I try and play through anything."
A four-year standout at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Wheeler made his professional debut with the FireAntz during the 2011-12 season. He went on to play for the SPHL’s Augusta RiverHawks and Huntsville Havoc, as well as the FHL’s Brooklyn Aviators that season. Over 45 games, he recorded a pair of assists and 35 penalty minutes during his first pro campaign.
Wheeler spent the majority of last season in the ECHL with the Fort Wayne Komets, where he notched 15 points (3g, 12a) in 33 games.
Other fun facts that you may not have known…
Nickname: “Wheels” or “Hot Wheels”
Favorite hobby outside of hockey: “Most people don’t know that I fly planes. It’s something I’ve done for a while and although I don’t have my pilot license yet, I will someday.”
Favorite pregame ritual: Eat same foods for lunch before every game – pasta, chicken, veggies
Inspiration to become a professional athlete: “My parents”
Cannot live without: “Oreos”
Favorite Movie: “Shawshank Redemption”
Favorite restaurant in Peoria: “Qdoba”
Other sports: “I played lacrosse my freshman year in college and I play golf as well. But I always wanted to be a professional hockey player.”
Biggest goofball in the locker room: "Either Matt Viola or Cole Ruwe."
Advice to aspiring hockey players: “Never give up and always work hard and have fun.”
You can follow Nick Wheeler on Twitter: @N_Wheeler37