Wheeling Nailers Weekly Report, February 4
Friday, February 1st: Indy Fuel 3 @ WHEELING NAILERS 2 (overtime)
The opening game of the weekend between the Nailers and Fuel was practically even in all areas. The contest needed overtime to decide a winner, both teams went 0-for-2 on the power play, and the shots on goal were separated by one. Both teams led once in regulation, with Alec Butcher opening the scoring for the Nailers, then Winston Day Chief netting an equalizer in the second period, following back-to-back goals by Indy's Mathew Thompson and Robert Powers. The deciding strike came from Kevin Dufour on a partial breakaway at the 3:57 mark of overtime. Matt Tomkins made 31 saves in the win for the Fuel, while John Muse turned away 29 of 32 shots for Wheeling.
Saturday, February 2nd: Kalamazoo Wings 5 @ WHEELING NAILERS 2
The rivalry between Wheeling and Kalamazoo has been intense this season, and on Saturday night, the two squads combined to eclipse the 100-penalty minute mark for the second time in the set. Both clubs utilized their special teams to find the back of the net, as the game featured four power play goals, including a pair of 4-on-3 tallies by former Nailer Reid Gardiner, who has seven goals in four games against Wheeling. The Nailers got their goals from Michael Phillips and Johnny Austin, but unfortunately, the home team was unable to overcome a three-goal rally by the Wings in the middle frame.
Tuesday, February 5th: Cincinnati Cyclones @ WHEELING NAILERS, 7:05 p.m.
The Nailers will close out their season-long six-game homestand on Tuesday night, when they play host to the top team in the Western Conference - the Cincinnati Cyclones. Cincinnati is one of two teams in the ECHL this season with single-digit losses, but one of those defeats was distributed by Wheeling. On November 25th, the Nailers erased a 2-0 deficit, before former Cyclone Winston Day Chief netted the game winner at the 15:50 mark of the third period for a 3-2 final. Last week, Cincinnati picked up home wins over Rapid City and Tulsa, improving to 7-1-2 in its last ten games.
Friday, February 8th: WHEELING NAILERS @ Manchester Monarchs, 7:00 p.m.
For the second time this season, the Nailers will play three games in three days in three different road cities, hoping to duplicate their November sweep of Jacksonville, South Carolina, and Greenville. The trip starts on Friday night against the Manchester Monarchs, who have won 11 of their last 16 games to jump into third place in the North Division. Manchester was in action four times last week, going 2-2-0 against Adirondack, Maine, and Reading. Last season, the Monarchs qualified for the playoffs for the third consecutive year, but the Nailers got the upper hand by winning four of six clashes head-to-head, including their first ever victory at SNHU Arena.
Saturday, February 9th: WHEELING NAILERS @ Worcester Railers, 7:05 p.m.
After nine meaningful games on the slate a year ago, the Nailers and Railers only get to do battle once this season, as Wheeling visits DCU Center on Saturday night. The Nailers won five of the nine meetings in 2017-18, but a late season charge by Worcester helped the Railers steal the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Nailers and Railers are both looking for second half success to reach the postseason this year, as Wheeling is four points behind Fort Wayne, while Worcester trails Brampton by two points. The Railers went 1-1-1 in Canada last week, falling in a shootout against Brampton, then splitting a pair in Newfoundland.
Sunday, February 10th: WHEELING NAILERS @ Maine Mariners, 3:05 p.m.
The quick trip up to New England will come to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon, when the Nailers play their first ever game in Maine, as they visit the Mariners in Portland. Former Nailers Assistant Coach Riley Armstrong had his Mariners as many as seven games over .500 in late December, but a rough January has taken them to an even record of 22-22-1. Despite that, Maine is just three points out of the final playoff spot in the North Division, as it and Newfoundland try to follow in Worcester's footsteps by reaching the postseason in year number one. Last week, the Mariners lost road games in Reading and Manchester, before earning a home win over Adirondack.
- Dan Fick set Wheeling's all-time record for games played on Saturday, appearing in his 232nd contest with the team.
- Saturday's 110-penalty minute game did not feature a single major penalty.
- There will be plenty of familiar faces on the upcoming road trip - Danny Tirone (Manchester), Derek Army & Nick Sorkin (Worcester), Riley Armstrong (Maine).
- Maine will be the 25th different state that the Nailers/Thunderbirds have visited for a road game in the 27-year history of the team.
- The Nailers will play six of their next seven games against the North Division, before finishing the regular season with 18 of 20 games against Central Division opponents.
Central Division Standings
1. Cincinnati Cyclones 29-8-3-3, 64 pts.
2. Toledo Walleye 27-11-4-3, 61 pts.
3. Indy Fuel 23-19-2-1, 49 pts.
4. Fort Wayne Komets 22-17-1-3, 48 pts.
5. Kalamazoo Wings 22-20-0-2, 46 pts.
6. WHEELING NAILERS 20-21-3-1, 44 pts.
Goals: Troy Josephs- 20
Assists: Zac Lynch- 32
Points: Zac Lynch- 45
Penalty Minutes: Cedric Lacroix- 133
Plus/Minus: Nick Saracino- +17
Wins: Matt O'Connor- 8
Goals Against Average: Matt O'Connor- 3.04
Save Percentage: Matt O'Connor- .898
Shutouts: John Muse & Matt O'Connor- 1
Next Big Promotional Night
Saturday, February 16th - Country Roads
Next Five Home Games
Tuesday, February 5th vs. Cincinnati Cyclones, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, February 13th vs. Reading Royals, 7:05 p.m.
Friday, February 15th vs. Brampton Beast, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, February 16th vs. Brampton Beast, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, March 2nd vs. Cincinnati Cyclones, 7:05 p.m.
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