Nailers vs. Fuel Game Day Snap Shot, January 13
Wheeling Nailers (18-16-2-0, 38 Pts.) vs. Indy Fuel (19-17-1-0, 39 Pts.), 3:05 p.m.
(18-16-2-0, 38 PTS, 5th Central, T-9th West)
126 GF, 111 GA
PP: 20.4% (32-for-157), 4th
PK: 83.7% (139-for-166), 14th
NHL Affiliate: Pittsburgh Penguins
AHL Affiliate: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
27-F-Zac Lynch (10 goals, 23 assists, 33 points in 36 games)
4-F-Alex Rauter (9 goals, 17 assists, 26 points in 29 games)
10-F-Troy Josephs (15 goals, 10 assists, 25 points in 19 games)
9-F-Yushiroh Hirano (8 goals, 16 assists, 24 points in 31 games)
12-F-Renars Krastenbergs (10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points in 29 games)
23-F-Michael Phillips (8 goals, 14 assists, 22 points in 36 games)
1-G-John Muse (6-7-0 record, 2.77 GAA, .897 Sv% in 13 games)
(19-17-1-0, 39 PTS, 4th Central, 8th West)
120 GF, 126 GA
PP: 16.0% (26-for-163), 18th
PK: 85.5% (141-for-165), 6th
NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks
AHL Affiliate: Rockford IceHogs
24-F-Josh Shalla (14 goals, 18 assists, 32 points in 34 games)
22-F-Ryan Rupert (9 goals, 22 assists, 31 points in 37 games)
10-F-Kevin Dufour (17 goals, 10 assists, 27 points in 34 games)
20-F-Matt Rupert (15 goals, 11 assists, 26 points in 35 games)
28-F-Mathew Thompson (8 goals, 14 assists, 22 points in 34 games)
17-D-Alex Brooks (4 goals, 10 assists, 14 points in 34 games)
30-G-Matt Tomkins (15-11-1 record, 3.10 GAA, .907 Sv% in 28 games)
Season Series: Nailers 3, Fuel 3
Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 3, Fuel 1
All-Time Series: Nailers 10, Fuel 10
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 6, Fuel 4
A Win for SpongeBob
The Wheeling Nailers closed out the first half of the 2018-19 regular season by earning their third win of the season in a specialty jersey, as SpongeBob SquarePants uniforms brought the home side great success on Saturday night. Wheeling surrendered the first goal of the night during the opening minute of the second period, but quickly responded in a matter of 30 seconds, as Zac Lynch deposited the rebound of Yushiroh Hirano's initial shot. The Nailers then took their first lead of the evening with two minutes left in the middle frame, when Alec Butcher poked home his first professional goal. The tilt became tied in the third period, but once again, Wheeling had an answer in less than a minute. Craig Skudalski swatted in a loose puck at the side of the goal, lifting the Nailers to a 3-2 lead, which turned out to be the final score. Matt O'Connor made 21 saves to earn his eighth win of the season.
Close to Unfamiliar Waters
The Indy Fuel haven't lost three straight games all season, but Wheeling hopes to change that note on Sunday afternoon. Indy fell 3-2 in overtime at home on Friday night against the Fort Wayne Komets, before dropping a 3-2 regulation decision to the Nailers on Saturday. That is just the third time this year that the Fuel have gone back-to-back games without a win. Both setbacks came despite the fact that Indy scored the first goal of the contests, as Josh Shalla broke a scoreless tie in the second period on Friday, while Brett Welychka made it 1-0 at the 17-second mark of Saturday's middle stanza. After falling behind 2-1, Logan Nelson snapped in a shot from the right circle to knot the score for the Fuel, but a quick answer by Wheeling kept the visitors out of reach. Jason Pawloski had his best outing of the year in goal with 25 saves on 28 shots, but suffered the loss.
The Streak is Finally Over
Scoring the first goal of the game is generally a recipe for success in the game of hockey, and through the first 1,000 games of this year's ECHL schedule, the team scoring first has a .738 points percentage. For over a month, the team scoring first in games involving the Nailers were consistently finding their way into the win column. In fact, Saturday's match was the first time in 19 games that the team scoring first failed to come away with the two points. Oddly enough, the last time that note occurred was November 30th, when Indy scored first, before Wheeling stormed back with a 6-2 triumph. Only two of the 18 games during the run saw the lead change hands - a 5-2 win at Toledo on December 8th and a 6-5 loss at Kalamazoo on December 28th. The Nailers' .765 points percentage when scoring first ranks 12th in the ECHL.
Grade A From Our New Butcher
Alec Butcher became the 32nd different player to suit up in a game with the Nailers this season, and his impact was felt immediately. At the 18-minute mark of the second period, Butcher snapped a 1-1 deadlock, squeezing the puck inside the right post, giving his new squad its first lead of the night. Alec became the 20th different Wheeling player to score a goal in 2018-19, and the 12th to net his first career goal in the ECHL. In addition to the tally, the Anchorage, Alaska native also had the most opportunities for the Nailers in Saturday's win, as he led the club with five shots on goal. Indy's leading shooter was Matheson Iacopelli, who had six attempts at the target. Iacopelli was playing in just his second game of the season for the Fuel, after suiting up in 25 contests for the AHL's Rockford IceHogs.
The Only Back-to-Back of the Set
Sunday afternoon marks the seventh of 11 head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Fuel this season, as well as the fourth battle at WesBanco Arena. Despite the 11 tilts being the most against any single opponent for Wheeling in 2018-19, this weekend's back-to-back series in West Virginia is the only time that the two Central Division foes clash on consecutive days. The first six games have been split right down the middle, with each team winning three times. However, there has been a significant advantage for the home clubs, who have skated away victorious on five of six occasions. Saturday was the first time that the margin of victory was one, as the Nailers earned their second one-goal win in regulation this season. Zac Lynch and Alex Brooks both found their way onto the scoresheet on Saturday, giving each of them seven points in the set to lead their respective squads. Indy's next visit to Nail City is February 1st.
• Discuss this story on the ECHL message board...
ECHL Stories from January 13, 2019
- First Period Blitz Pushes Allen Past Thunder - Wichita Thunder
- Three Straight Goals K-Wings Past Komets - Kalamazoo Wings
- Desmond Bergin Returned to Thunder - Adirondack Thunder
- IceMen Fight Back to Win in North Charleston - Jacksonville IceMen
- Nailers Edge OT Win over the Fuel - Indy Fuel
- Lynch Lifts Nailers to Overtime Victory - Wheeling Nailers
- Railers Win Third Straight After 4-2 Home Win over the Monarchs - Worcester Railers HC
- Pair of Askew Goals Not Enough for SC in Loss to IceMen - South Carolina Stingrays
- Monarchs Fall Short in 4-2 Loss to Railers - Manchester Monarchs
- Tianulin's Hat-Trick Powers Beast Past Mariners - Brampton Beast
- Jared Vanwormer Returns to Mavericks After AHL Stint - Kansas City Mavericks
- ECHL Transactions - January 13 - ECHL
- Bad Start Sinks Mariners in Brampton - Maine Mariners
- Nailers vs. Fuel Game Day Snap Shot, January 13 - Wheeling Nailers
- Game Day: K-Wings Hit Halfway Point against Komets, Dirk Rejoins K-Wings - Kalamazoo Wings
- Brian Ward Reassigned to Thunder - Adirondack Thunder
- Americans Rally for a 4-3 Win in Wichita - Allen Americans
- Steelheads Take Three-Game Weekend with 5-3 Win over Walleye - Idaho Steelheads
- First Period Slips Away in Loss to Allen - Wichita Thunder
- Solar Bears Skate to 5-4 Shootout Victory - Orlando Solar Bears
- Tulsa Sweeps Rapid City with Second Straight 5-1 Win - Tulsa Oilers
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.