OHL Grad Matt Pelech is leaving North America behind for 2015-16 to play in Germany’s top level Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). Pelech has committed to one year with the cellar dwelling Schwenninger Wild Wings. The club is counting on his solid defense, crushing physical play and leadership abilities to turn fortunes around in the upcoming season.
Pelech played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2003-04 to 2006-07 with the Sarnia Sting, London Knights and Belleville Bulls. Matt was a second round pick by Sarnia at the 2003 OHL Priority Selection, 38th overall. He was traded to the Knights midway through 2005-06 and spent his final year with Belleville.
In 2004-05, while with the Sting, Pelech was honoured with the Ivan Tennant Award as the OHL’s top scholastic player at the high school level. The following year, he helped the Knights reach the finals before bowing out to the Peterborough Petes. It would be as close as he would get to a championship.
At the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Pelech was a first round, going 26th overall to the Calgary Flames. He has played pro hockey since 2007-08 in the AHL, NHL and ECHL. His National Hockey League experience has been limited to 13 games. He played five with the Flames in 2008-09 and a total of eight with the San Jose Sharks between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
An American Hockey League veteran, Matt has played 425 regular season games to date, scoring 18 and assisting on 36 for 54 points. He also sat 1,153 minutes in the penalty box over that time. In 2012-13, his 238 PIM over 58 games with the Worcester Sharks ranked him fifth in the AHL.
This past season, 2014-15, Pelech played 39 games in the AHL with the Rochester Americans. He also appeared in 15 regular season games in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies. Matt also played in eleven Kelly Cup playoff games as the Grizzlies knocked off the Idaho Steelheads in the opening round before falling to the Ontario Reign.
Brother Mike Pelech also split his season between the Amerks and Grizzlies. His year was mostly with Utah with a ten game stint in the AHL.
Schwenninger Wild Wings
This team was a charter member of the DEL when it was formed for the 1994-95 season. However, the club has roots back to 1904. To date, the Wild Wings have not won a DEL championship. They were relegated to the DEL2 (2.Bundesliga) from 2003-04 to 2012-13 for financial reasons. In the DEL2, Schwenninger reached the finals on three occasions but did not win a championship.
The Wild Wings returned to the DEL for the 2013-14 season. In their first year back, they placed 13th in the 14 team league. This past season, they dropped a spot to finish dead last.
The team plays home games at the Helios Arena in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany, a 6,214 seat venue that opened in 1976.
Villingen-Schwenningen is a city of just over 80,000, located in the far southwest of Germany. The city is near the borders with Switzerland and France, along the eastern edge of the Black Forest. This is the birthplace of NHLer Dennis Seidenberg.