Nailers Take 2 Games to 0 Lead in Playoffs!
Cincinnati, OH - Curtis Darling had his second straight stellar game between the pipes and the Wheeling Nailers took a 2 games to 0 lead in the best of 7 North Division Semifinal series with a 3-1 win at Cincinnati Friday night. The Nailers and the defending league champion Cyclones travel to Wheeling for game 3 of the series Saturday night at WesBanco Arena.
Wheeling scored a pair of power play goals from Doug Krantz and Jordan Morrison and tacked on a valuable insurance goal from Bryan Ewing in the 3rd for a 3-0 lead. For the second straight game the Cyclones were able to break up Darling's bid for a shutout with just a few minutes remaining.
The Nailers stunned the crowd of over 4,000 at US Bank Arena who watched as Cincinnati's efforts were turned aside time and again by Darling who made 35 saves on 36 shots. Cincinnati had never lost a first round game (much less a first round series) in the Chuck Weber era but the Nailers put that stat on its ear by surprising the Cyclones in their own building on consecutive nights.
This was Wheeling's first ever victory over Ryan Nie as they broke the 11 game jinx of the former Chiefs and current Cyclones goalie.
Wheeling now has a chance to clinch the first round series on home ice if they can win two of their next three games. Game 3 of the series is Saturday night followed by Game 4 on Wednesday, April 15th. If the series goes to a game 5 then it would take place on Friday, April 17th also at WesBanco Arena.
Doug Krantz blasted a slapshot from center-point on the power play at 12:36 of the 1st period to give the Nailers the initial lead. The Cornell University product shot it low and hard past the left skate of Nie. Krantz has scored 4 goals total between the regular season and post-season and 3 of those lamplights have come in Cincinnati. The goal was assisted by Chris Snavely and Chris Margott.
Early in the 2nd period, on the power play again, Jordan Morrison took a Nie rebound on the base of the left circle and flung it home behind the goalie for a 2-0 lead at 2:24. Bryan Ewing's shot from the high slot was deflected away by Nie to set up the Morrison tally and Billy Ryan also assisted.
Curtis Darling made some of his best saves through the final minutes of the 2nd period and into the 3rd. And still hanging on to a precarious 2-0 lead the Nailers would score their first even-strength goal of the night. Bryan Ewing snapped a 5 game streak without a goal, his longest such stretch since October. Ewing was at the side of the cage and appeared to bank the puck of the back of Ryan Nie's leg and into the goal after Billy Ryan cut in along the goal-line and shot just inches behind the short-side post. Jordan Morrison also assisted on the goal.
Matt Syrocynski fired in a rebound try of a Jimmy Kilpatrick shot at 15:31 of the 3rd on the power play to break the Darling shutout bid and provide the 3-1 final.
The game featured a lot of playoff intensity and few scraps including one right after Ewing scored the insurance goal in the 3rd as a frustrated Cincinnati team tried to take out their anger on the Nailers.
Wheeling went 2 for 7 on the power play and is 3 for 12 on the series. Wheeling finished the season with the top power play in the league (tied with South Carolina) while Cincinnati had the 2nd worst penalty kill percentage in the ECHL (20th out of 21). The Nailers special teams have been a key to the 2 games to 0 advantage. The Nailers have also held Cincinnati to 1 for 10 on the power play in the series including 1 for 5 in the Game 2 win.
Several Wheeling Nailers fans made the trek down to the Queen City braving rain-soaked roads to enjoy the Nailers win as they were frequently the only ones making noise in front of what was occasionally a mostly stunned and silent US Bank Arena crowd. The game began with a loud and enthusiastic Cincinnati contingent and boisterous atmosphere but the Nailers early goals and 2-0 lead at the beginning of the 2nd helped take the crowd out of the game for the most part.
The Nailers have announced a pregame tailgate party prior to Saturday evening's Game 3 contest at WesBanco Arena. Stop by the Nailers office on Main Street before the game for hot dogs and soda for a charitable donation. Tickets for game 3 are on sale at the Wheeling Nailers office at 304-234-GOAL. Kids tickets are only $5 for these exciting post-season games.
Post-season playoff packages are available now. Purchase your 6-game playoff package that is good for the entire post-season. You get a discount vs. the gate price and any unused playoff credits are forwarded to the following season.
Season tickets are on sale now for the 2009-10 campaign. Reserve your season ticket for as low as $50. There are some great incentives to reserve your season ticket ahead of time. If you pay for your season ticket in full by May 1 the Nailers will give you free parking in the back lot for the season. Those who deposit $100 by May 1 will have the $18 arena fee waived.
For more information contact the Nailers at 304-234-GOAL (that's 234-4625) or log on at wheelingnailers.com.
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ECHL Stories from April 10, 2009
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