'Kind Of An Addiction': Michael Pelech Is Back After 700-Plus ECHL Games

Pelech, Reading

Michael Pelech still gets that feeling in his stomach 10-15 minutes before the puck drops.

That’s how he knows the question everyone might be thinking isn’t one that should bother him.

How long will he keep playing? Until his body says "no." Until those pregame jitters go away.

“It has always been in my mind that I wanted to play as long as someone would put me on their team,” Pelech said. “So I’m kind of sticking with that. Just having a lot of fun being around the guys. It’s kind of an addiction. I haven’t thought about stopping yet.”

Pelech has signed with the Wheeling Nailers for his 12th season. The forward has played 705 ECHL games, which leads active players and is fourth-most all-time.

The Toronto native has been a marvel of persistence and endurance since he put on his first pro uniform in 2009.

Pelech, 31, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings and his first contract was a two-way deal between Ontario, then in the ECHL, and Manchester, then in the AHL. He played all 72 games his rookie season, which started shortly after he turned 20.

Despite all that has happened across the minor league landscape during the intervening decade, Pelech is still around.

“The game has obviously changed a lot since then,” he said. “The league also has changed. It’s getting younger and faster and better. I don’t want to say it’s difficult keeping up but for sure the league is getting better in a good way.” 

The road has taken Pelech all over the United States. He has played for Toledo, Cincinnati, Utah, Norfolk, Reading, Utah again and Greenville.

Pelech’s game never goes out of style. He’s a mixture of skill and toughness and he’s terrific winning faceoffs. There’s always going to be a coach who wants that combination on his team.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound center has 169 goals, 372 assists, and 1,176 PIMs in his ECHL career. While many players look for more lucrative opportunities overseas as they get older, Pelech has stayed put.

“I’ve had the opportunity to go,” he said. “I’m not really sure why I haven’t. I like the style of play in North America. I’m comfortable here. I’ve really enjoyed playing in this league. The level of hockey, I find it really good.”

Pelech’s offseason included a one-of-a-kind experience this summer. He initially signed with Atlanta before the Gladiators opted out of 2020-21 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After unexpectedly being thrown back into free agency, Pelech picked Wheeling. That’s one place he has never played before. The Nailers are coached by Mark French, who won a Calder Cup with Hershey in 2010.

The ECHL can be a grind with its compact schedule and rigorous overnight travel. Pelech doesn’t mind it. It has become second nature to him.

“I enjoy it so much,” Pelech said. “Obviously the schedule sometimes can be pretty gruesome. The 3-in-3s, I think they get to everyone. I try to use the offseason to stay in the best shape I can and prepare myself pretty well.”

To get back to the original question: When will Pelech think about retiring? Not any time soon. He’s having too much fun and he’s still successful.

The veteran had 53 points in 63 games for Greenville last season.

“There’s been a lot of good moments,” Pelech said. “Hopefully there are better moments to come.”


Jason Guarente has covered the Reading Royals and ECHL for 10 seasons. He can be found on Twitter @JasonGuarente.

Game 2 Of Minnesota State-Bemidji State Series Postponed

Minnesota State Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Monday’s scheduled Minnesota State-Bemidji State non-conference game has been postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Minnesota State program. No make-up date for today’s contest has been announced.

1-On-1 With Don Lucia After Alaska Anchorage Shutters Hockey Program

Alaska Anchorage

Hockey has always been part of the culture in the 48th state, whether it be in the hit film Mystery Alaska, its countless pickup games on all their frozen ponds and streams, or 40 years’ worth of varsity hockey on two NCAA campuses. Last week that number has shrunk to one, as Alaska Anchorage announced it had dropped its hockey program, ending a 41-year reign as a varsity sport. 

Loh Of The Adirondack Thunder Prepares For The 'Upside-Down' Hockey Season

Alex Loh

A phone, a computer, a tireless work ethic and the ability to accept rejection are all Alex Loh, or any ECHL coach, needs to build a roster.

Spiros Anastas Prepares The Brampton Beast After Losses & During COVID-19

Anastas / Brampton Beast

Spiros Anastas is the head coach of a Canadian team.

The Mavericks & Beavers Are On A Superstar Goaltender Collision Course

McKay / Driscoll

Goaltending. 

It is by far the most important position in hockey. A star goalie carries significance comparable to an entire baseball pitching staff. The WCHA has two such aces: Minnesota State’s Dryden McKay and Zach Driscoll of Bemidji. McKay had the best statistics in college hockey last season, and he was a finalist for the Richter Award as well as a semifinalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Driscoll, a star in his own right, finished as a second-team All-WCHA selection behind McKay. McKay is this year’s projected WCHA player of the year; Driscoll finished fourth in the voting. 

Pretenders, Contenders & Rear-Enders: The WCHA Squads Of Michigan

Mitens, Lake Superior State

Northern Michigan, Lake Superior State, and Ferris State have all enjoyed degrees of success this past decade: Ferris with three trips to the NCAAs (including a competitive NCAA title game in 2012); Northern Michigan with a return to 20-win seasons under Grant Potulny; and Lake Superior waking its echoes of dominance with a Great Lakes Invitational title and a 23-win season in 2019. 

Scoring Threat Ross Olsson Plays 'In Your Face' For The Worcester Railers

Ross Olsson / Worcester Railers

Ross Olsson would seemingly be one of the last guys you’d expect to have a rather well-populated page on HockeyFights.com.

Atlantic Hockey Previews: AIC Loses Historic Group, Robert Morris Reloads

AIC Hockey

AIC has been crowned Atlantic Hockey regular season champions in each of the past two seasons and endured an incredible run into the second round of the NCAA tournament two years ago. This season, the Yellow Jackets look to replace players that have solidified their name in AIC history books. While there are large skates to fill, the Yellow Jackets return talent and depth from their 20-win season in 2019-20. 

Atlantic Hockey Team Previews: Bentley, Canisius, & West Point's Depth

Army coach

For 2020-21, Army West Point and Bentley welcome back much of their scoring depth from last year. Both teams return several double-digit scorers and are poised for successful seasons this year. As West Point returns their starting goaltender from last season, Bentley searches for consistency between the pipes. Canisius returns several key scorers from last year, but look for new members to step up after losing three All-Conference team members. 

WCHA Round-Up: Alabama Huntsville's Victory, COVID Protocol & The NCAAs

Alabama Huntsville

The WCHA’s men’s media day on Wednesday was business as usual in the new world order of COVID-19, meaning that it was unlike any in the eight-year history of the league’s rebirth. It was two months delayed, took place via Zoom, and was bursting with short-term and long-term news headlines.