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Nailers vs. Wings Game Day Snap Shot, March 31

March 31, 2019 - ECHL (ECHL) - Wheeling Nailers News Release

Wheeling Nailers (30-29-6-3, 69 Pts.) vs. Kalamazoo Wings (35-28-2-3, 75 Pts.), 3:05 p.m.


(30-29-6-3, 69 PTS, 6th Central, 10th West)

229 GF, 225 GA

PP: 20.3% (57-for-281), 5th

PK: 80.8% (244-for-302), 21st

NHL Affiliate: Pittsburgh Penguins

AHL Affiliate: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

27-F-Zac Lynch (16 goals, 48 assists, 64 points in 63 games)

9-F-Yushiroh Hirano (19 goals, 34 assists, 53 points in 63 games)

12-F-Renars Krastenbergs (17 goals, 24 assists, 41 points in 58 games)

14-F-Cedric Lacroix (21 goals, 19 assists, 40 points in 67 games)

23-F-Michael Phillips (18 goals, 21 assists, 39 points in 68 games)

22-D-Kevin Spinozzi (16 goals, 21 assists, 37 points in 40 games)

30-G-Matt O'Connor (10-6-3 record, 3.08 GAA, .901 Sv% in 21 games)


(35-28-2-3, 75 PTS, 4th Central, 7th West)

225 GF, 242 GA

PP: 21.1% (61-for-289), 3rd

PK: 80.1% (233-for-291), 24th

NHL Affiliate: Vancouver Canucks

AHL Affiliate: Utica Comets

12-F-Chris Collins (28 goals, 36 assists, 64 points in 56 games)

74-F-Tanner Sorenson (20 goals, 42 assists, 62 points in 51 games)

18-F-Kyle Blaney (12 goals, 31 assists, 43 points in 59 games)

7-D-Kyle Bushee (9 goals, 27 assists, 36 points in 63 games)

9-F-Chad McDonald (9 goals, 22 assists, 31 points in 67 games)

15-D-Eric Kattelus (10 goals, 18 assists, 28 points in 41 games)

29-G-Jake Hildebrand (21-16-2 record, 3.58 GAA, .890 Sv% in 43 games)


Season Series: Wings 7, Nailers 0

Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Wings 2, Nailers 0

All-Time Series: Wings 32, Nailers 27

All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 15, Wings 14

One Point to Take Home

The Wheeling Nailers have earned three of four possible points thus far this weekend, although they would have loved to have taken a second point out of Saturday's game, as they fell 3-2 in a shootout on the road against the Reading Royals. Wheeling stormed out of the gates with a pair of goals in the first period. Winston Day Chief converted off a rush with Cedric Lacroix, then Yushiroh Hirano wired in a one-timer from Alec Butcher, following a turnover by the Royals. Josh MacDonald put Reading on the scoreboard with 4:44 left in the middle frame, before Frank DiChiara got open in the slot for the equalizer at 7:41 of the third. Jordan Ruby did everything he could to help his team earn a point, stopping 39 of the 41 shots he faced, as the contest went to overtime, then eventually a shootout. Reading scored on both of its attempts, while Jamie Phillips followed up a 20-save performance with two shootout denials to give his squad the winning decision.

The Perfect Road Game

The Kalamazoo Wings picked up an enormous victory on Saturday night, playing an ideal road game, as they blanked the Toledo Walleye, 3-0 at Huntington Center. After a scoreless opening stanza, Kalamazoo got the first goal in an uplifting way, as Jimmy Mullin found the back of the net off a face-off, playing in his first game since late October. The tilt stayed 1-0 all the way until the final six minutes of regulation, when Kyle Blaney tapped in the rebound of Kyle Bushee's initial shot. Luke Sandler added one more tally into an empty net, which was plenty of support for Ivan Kulbakov, who thwarted all 27 shots he faced for his first career shutout. Pat Nagle made 28 saves for the Walleye in the defeat. The Wings are 1-1-1 through the first three games of their season-ending seven-game road trip, which visits its fourth of six cities on Sunday.

Winning is the Only Option

In order to have a chance to qualify for the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Nailers have only one option on Sunday - win. The victory can come in regulation, overtime, or a shootout, but the bottom line is that two points must go Wheeling's way. The Nailers enter Sunday's clash six points behind Kalamazoo, and both teams have four games remaining, while the Wings hold the tiebreaker. Kalamazoo and the Fort Wayne Komets can both clinch playoff spots on Sunday, even though the Komets have the day off. The Indy Fuel are the other team in the equation, as they have to beat the Kansas City Mavericks or get a Wheeling win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Two teams in other divisions punched their playoff tickets on Saturday, as Kansas City qualified by beating Fort Wayne, while Orlando took down South Carolina to clinch.

A Rare Weekend of Comebacks

Prior to the start of the weekend, only 21 of 67 games involving the Nailers saw a team come from behind to earn a victory. Not only has that happened in back-to-back contests, but Wheeling rallied from a three-goal deficit on Friday, while Reading erased a two-goal deficit on Saturday. The Nailers were able to earn a point in Saturday's tilt, turning their record to 23-1-2 when leading by at least two goals at any point. The lone regulation setback came in the home opener on November 3rd, when the Indy Fuel netted five straight goals after falling behind 2-0. Saturday was also just the second time this season that Wheeling came up short when leading after two periods, as that mark stands at 25-0-2. The Nailers have erased multiple goal deficits on four occasions, while coming back when trailing after two periods once (November 25th vs. Cincinnati).

Last Chance to Get One

Sunday afternoon marks the eighth and final head-to-head meeting between the Nailers and Wings this season, as well as the third and final battle at WesBanco Arena. Wheeling is in search of its first triumph of the season against Kalamazoo, who has won eight straight matches dating back to last season. Three of the seven games this year have been decided by one goal, and two of the other three would have been, if not for empty net markers. The most recent contest saw Tanner Sorenson snap a 2-2 deadlock with a breakaway in the third period on March 23rd. Sorenson has taken over the active scoring lead in the set, notching eight points in five tilts. Michael Phillips' five goals are the most for either team among active players, as he leads the Nailers with six points. Matt O'Connor is expected to make his third start of the season series, while Jake Hildebrand is 6-0-0 this season and 7-0-0 in his career during the regular season against Wheeling.

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