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Nailers sign Bednard, Culina

Monday, August 8th
Action photos of Ryan Bednard and Mario Culina

WHEELING, W.Va. - The Wheeling Nailers, ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, announced that they have signed goaltenders Ryan Bednard and Mario Culina to contracts for the 2022-23 season. Bednard, 25, is entering his fourth professional season, after spending the majority of his first three years in the state of South Carolina. He started his pro career in the Florida Panthers organization, as Florida selected him in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That led him to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, where he went 30-18-9 with a 2.65 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. The 2020-21 campaign was a huge one for Bednard, who earned ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors four times, was one of four goaltenders to reach the 20-win mark, and helped Greenville win its first playoff series since 2014. This past year, the Macomb, Michigan native took his talents slightly east to the South Carolina Stingrays, and finished with a save percentage of .900 or better for the third straight season. Bednard has seen American Hockey League action in all three of his pro years, as he has skated into the crease for the Springfield Thunderbirds, Syracuse Crunch and Hershey Bears.

Prior to turning pro, Bednard played three seasons of college hockey at Bowling Green State University. He also played junior hockey locally with the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms and NAHL's Johnstown Tomahawks.Culina, 25, has played in parts of two ECHL seasons with the Newfoundland Growlers and Fort Wayne Komets, and has gone 10-7-0 with a 2.98 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. He first turned pro in 2018, after he completed his junior hockey career with the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers. He won each of his first five starts with the Growlers, then opted to go to school, as he attended Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native played two seasons with the Badgers and turned in solid numbers, as he had a 2.51 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in 17 appearances. During the 2021-22 season, Culina made his return to the pro game, as he signed with the Komets. He was victorious in five of his final nine starts, and allowed two goals or less in four of his five wins. Mario had a winning record in four of his five seasons as an amateur, which included a trip to game seven of the conference final in his final year with Kitchener, where his goaltending coach was current Pittsburgh Penguins Goaltending Development Coach Kain Tisi.

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