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Nailers at Royals Game Day Snap Shot

April 9, 2016 - ECHL (ECHL) - Wheeling Nailers News Release

The Ticket has Been Punched

The Wheeling Nailers secured their 14th playoff appearance in team history on Friday night, and did so in dramatic fashion in front of a tremendous crowd of 4,150 at WesBanco Arena. The first 36 minutes were anything but what Wheeling had envisioned, as it fell behind the Reading Royals, 3-0. Ty Loney began to turn the game around in the second period, when his power play goal brought the Nailers within two. At the 1:25 mark of the third period, Clark Seymour closed the gap to one with a second marker on the man advantage, setting the stage for the remarkable comeback. With 1:56 remaining, John McCarron snapped home a shot from the right circle to even the score at three, and 57 seconds later, McCarron's heroics put the home team on top for the first time all night, when he connected from the left side of the slot. Casey DeSmith made seven saves in relief of Franky Palazzese, earning the 4-3 win between the pipes.

The Division is Now Off the Table

The Reading Royals entered Friday night's game with a tremendous opportunity, as they were still alive in the hunt for the East Division title, as they trailed the Manchester Monarchs by three points with two games to go. Similar to how both teams got help from the Brampton Beast, who defeated the Elmira Jackals, Reading got some assistance from the Adirondack Thunder, who edged Manchester, 4-3. For the first half of the contest, the Royals looked like they were still going to be able to take aim at Manchester on Saturday, as they stormed out to a 3-0 lead. Yannick Tifu connected on the power play with 5:16 left in the first period, opening the scoring. Then, in the middle frame, a pair of defensemen extended the advantage, as Maxim Lamarche dented the twine from neutral ice, and Kevin Young finished off a rush with a wrist shot from the right circle. Adam Morrison made 26 saves on 28 shots, and was playing well in goal for Reading, before leaving the game with an injury. Matt Skoff took over, and received the loss, as he surrendered two goals on 13 shots.

Four Possibilities Still Out There

While Friday night's results did secure a playoff spot for both the Nailers and Royals, it solved nothing as far as where the teams will finish, and who they will face in the opening round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The top four positions have been settled, as Toledo clinched first in the conference, followed by South Carolina, Manchester, and Florida. Those are the four possible first round opponents for Wheeling, whose result on Saturday night will put them into two different sets of scenarios. If the Nailers defeat the Royals, they are guaranteed to finish either fifth or sixth, which would put them against either Florida or Manchester, depending on the result of the game between the Monarchs and Thunder at Glens Falls Civic Center. If Wheeling is not victorious, it will finish either seventh or eighth to face South Carolina or Toledo, depending on the result of the game between Toledo and Kalamazoo at Wings Event Center. 15 of the 16 playoff spots have been clinched, with Kalamazoo and Elmira left as the two clubs to decide the final team to reach the dance from the Eastern Conference.

18 at Home, 18 on the Road

The 2015-16 season has seen mixed success for the Nailers both at home and on the road. The campaign started with great success at WesBanco Arena, where the squad went 6-2-1 in its first nine tilts in front of its home crowd. However, a seven-game homestand in late December and early January began to turn that number in a sour direction, as Wheeling went 1-5-1, and at one point, sat below .500 in the Ohio Valley. With their season on the line late in the year, the Nailers hit the gas pedal and drove forward, finishing the campaign with a 6-1-1 mark in their last eight home games, completing the season with an 18-14-4 record. Despite an Opening Night win in Norfolk and wins in two of three games at Florida, road success was a bit scattered at the beginning of the year, as Wheeling went 6-9-1 in its first 16 road clashes. The most recent 19 were downright impressive, as the Nailers earned points in 16 of the 19, going 12-3-4 down the stretch, making the biggest difference in the team's March to the Playoffs. Wheeling has a chance for its 19th road victory of the season on Saturday, which would be the highest single season total since 2005-06, when the team won 23 outside of West Virginia.

Two in a Row for the Good Guys

Saturday night marks the 11th and final head-to-head meeting between the Nailers and Royals this season, as well as the fifth battle at Santander Arena. With the win on Friday night, Wheeling not only clinched a spot in the playoffs, but also locked up a victory in the season series for the second consecutive year, taking a 6-4 advantage into Saturday's finale. In order to get the win, the Nailers had to put an end to a four-game road winning streak by the two rivals, as the Royals had won their previous two trips to West Virginia, while Wheeling has won two in a row in Pennsylvania. Matt Skoff became the fifth different Reading netminder to get a decision in the ten clashes, and eighth overall, as he fell to Casey DeSmith, who defeated the Royals for the second time. With a 2-2-0 mark in four visits, the Nailers are in search of their first winning road record against Reading since 2006-07.

Wheeling Nailers (36-26-5-4, 81 Pts.) at Reading Royals (36-25-6-4, 82 Pts.)

WHEELING NAILERS

(36-26-5-4, 81 PTS, 2nd North, 7th East)

210 GF, 209 GA

PP: 17.4% (46-for-264), 9th

PK: 83.8% (222-for-265), 16th

23-F-Riley Brace (26 goals, 40 assists, 66 points in 55 games)

18-D-Mathew Maione (9 goals, 43 assists, 52 points in 69 games)

11-F-Cody Wydo (22 goals, 27 assists, 49 points in 58 games)

25-F-John McCarron (14 goals, 16 assists, 30 points in 50 games)

17-F-Jordan Kwas (8 goals, 20 assists, 28 points in 59 games)

27-D-Brett Stern (7 goals, 17 assists, 24 points in 71 games)

30-G-Casey DeSmith (4-2-2 record, 2.61 GAA, .913 Sv% in 12 games)

READING ROYALS

(36-25-6-4, 82 PTS, 2nd East, T-5th East)

220 GF, 190 GA

PP: 18.5% (50-for-270), 6th

PK: 84.0% (200-for-238), 15th

19-F-Justin Crandall (16 goals, 38 assists, 54 points in 53 games)

28-F-Cam Reid (18 goals, 29 assists, 47 points in 57 games)

10-F-Yannick Tifu (19 goals, 25 assists, 44 points in 65 games)

55-F-Michael Pelech (11 goals, 32 assists, 43 points in 69 games)

26-F-Nikita Kashirsky (13 goals, 27 assists, 40 points in 59 games)

43-D-Kevin Young (7 goals, 25 assists, 32 points in 55 games)

1-G-Martin Ouellette (17-9-3 record, 2.07 GAA, .923 Sv% in 30 games)

Head to Head

Season Series: Nailers 6, Royals 4

Season Series at Santander Arena: Nailers 2, Royals 2

All-Time Series: Royals 84, Nailers 69

All-Time Series at Santander Arena: Royals 47, Nailers 30


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