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Nailers vs. Fuel Game Day Snap Shot, March 22

March 22, 2019 - ECHL (ECHL) - Wheeling Nailers News Release

Wheeling Nailers (28-28-6-2, 64 Pts.) vs. Indy Fuel (30-29-2-2, 64 Pts.)

WHEELING NAILERS

(28-28-6-2, 64 PTS, T-5th Central, T-9th West)

214 GF, 213 GA

PP: 20.1% (54-for-268), 5th

PK: 80.4% (229-for-285), 23rd

NHL Affiliate: Pittsburgh Penguins

AHL Affiliate: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

27-F-Zac Lynch (15 goals, 42 assists, 57 points in 59 games)

9-F-Yushiroh Hirano (16 goals, 33 assists, 49 points in 59 games)

12-F-Renars Krastenbergs (16 goals, 23 assists, 39 points in 55 games)

23-F-Michael Phillips (17 goals, 19 assists, 36 points in 64 games)

22-D-Kevin Spinozzi (16 goals, 19 assists, 35 points in 36 games)

14-F-Cedric Lacroix (19 goals, 15 assists, 34 points in 63 games)

31-G-Jordan Ruby (11-7-3, 2.84 GAA, .910 Sv% in 23 games)

INDY FUEL

(30-29-2-2, 64 PTS, T-5th Central, T-9th West)

199 GF, 214 GA

PP: 18.2% (48-for-264), 11th

PK: 84.0% (237-for-282), 8th

NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks

AHL Affiliate: Rockford IceHogs

22-F-Ryan Rupert (20 goals, 36 assists, 56 points in 62 games)

24-F-Josh Shalla (27 goals, 26 assists, 53 points in 60 games)

20-F-Matt Rupert (20 goals, 19 assists, 39 points in 61 games)

28-F-Mathew Thompson (16 goals, 22 assists, 38 points in 56 games)

26-F-Logan Nelson (13 goals, 20 assists, 33 points in 55 games)

17-D-Alex Brooks (6 goals, 22 assists, 28 points in 58 games)

30-G-Matt Tomkins (25-17-4 record, 3.03 GAA, .905 Sv% in 47 games)

Head-to-Head

Season Series: Nailers 5, Fuel 4

Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 5, Fuel 2

All-Time Series: Nailers 12, Fuel 11

All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 8, Fuel 5

Cincinnati Captures the Crown

The Wheeling Nailers may run into the Cincinnati Cyclones in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs, but for now, the Central Division Champions are in the rear view mirror. On Wednesday night, the two clubs completed their season series, with the Cyclones skating away victorious, 4-1. Jesse Schultz got the scoring started for Cincinnati at the 12:23 mark of the first period, when he swiped in a cross-crease pass from Alex Wideman. The second goal came during the dying seconds of a power play, as Kurt Gosselin deposited the rebound of Eric Knodel's initial attempt. The Nailers responded with a shorthanded goal moments later, as Zac Lynch had his breakaway denied, but Michael Phillips followed up to cash in on the rebound. Gosselin banked in his second of the night to regain a two-goal lead for the Cyclones, then Myles Powell tacked on an empty netter to put a bow on it. Ty Rimmer made 20 saves in the win, while Matt O'Connor came up with 30 stops for Wheeling.

Ten-Bell Effort on the Kill

The Indy Fuel got a remarkable performance from their penalty kill on Saturday night, as they thwarted all ten power plays for the Reading Royals, while adding a pair of shorthanded goals in a 5-1 triumph at Santander Arena. Mathew Thompson put the Fuel on the scoreboard with an unassisted goal at the 4:49 mark of the first period, then Travis Brown upped the lead with his third goal in an Indy uniform. The score stayed 2-0 until the third period, when Thompson connected for his second of the night, which came on the power play, as special teams began to take over. After Adam Schmidt brought Reading to within two, defensemen Samuel Thibault and Eric Schurhamer iced the Fuel victory with back-to-back shorthanded empty netters. The best penalty killer is typically the goaltender, and Matt Tomkins succeeded in that role, turning in a 30-save effort for his 25th win of the season.

Winner Moves One Step Closer to Kalamazoo

Fifth place in the Central Division will be on the line on Friday night, as Wheeling and Indy both enter the match with 64 points. The two teams are currently looking up at the Kalamazoo Wings, who recorded a 4-3 win over the Fort Wayne Komets on Wednesday, extending their lead to six points for the fourth and final playoff spot in the grouping. Kalamazoo will be watching Friday's game very closely, while it enjoys a night off in preparation for a visit from the Nailers on Saturday. Fort Wayne has a chance to extend its one-point lead over the Wings for third place, when it faces the Cincinnati Cyclones, who suffered their second home regulation loss of the season on Thursday against Toledo. Speaking of the Walleye, they can become the second Central Division team to secure a playoff spot, needing a win and an Indy loss.

One Away From the 20 & 200 Club

When the Wheeling Thunderbirds first arrived on the scene in 1992, they iced a team with players who could fill up all statistical categories. There was no better example of that than Wheeling Hockey Hall of Famer and ECHL Hall of Famer Darren Schwartz, who eclipsed 50 goals and 200 penalty minutes in both of his first two seasons with the Thunderbirds. While 50 goals has become an extremely rare feat in the current ECHL, Cedric Lacroix is one goal away from reaching 20 in his rookie season, while already having amassed 201 penalty minutes. In addition to Schwartz, only two other Wheeling players have tallied 20 goals and 200 penalty minutes in the same season - Marquis Mathieu in 1997-98 and Zenon Konopka in 2002-03. Last season, the ECHL saw two players achieve that feat - Allen's Bryan Moore and Colorado's Joey Ratelle. They were the first two to reach 20 and 200 since Tulsa's Tommy Mele in 2014-15.

Adding More Time to the Series

Friday night marks the tenth of 11 head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Fuel this season, as well as the eighth of nine battles at WesBanco Arena. Each of the last three tilts have gone past regulation, as Wheeling won 4-3 in overtime on January 13th, Indy responded with a 3-2 overtime decision on February 1st, and most recently, the Nailers collected a 2-1 shootout win on March 12th. After four straight multi-goal margins to start the year, each of the last five games have been decided by one goal. Additionally, the home teams have had a decided advantage, going 7-1-1, including a 5-1-1 home mark for Wheeling. Zac Lynch leads all players with 11 points in the set for the Nailers, while Alex Brooks tops the Fuel with eight points. Both players have lit the lamp four times. The regular season home finale on April 6th will close out the season series.


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