(27-18-5-0, 59 PTS, 5th North, 9th East)
176 GF, 155 GA
PP: 20.8% (49-for-236), 8th
PK: 76.0% (158-for-208), 26th
26-D-Kevin Schulze (9 goals, 33 assists, 42 points in 46 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (12 goals, 29 assists, 41 points in 38 games)
17-F-Jordan Kwas (19 goals, 21 assists, 40 points in 46 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (19 goals, 19 assists, 38 points in 49 games)
11-F-Cody Wydo (20 goals, 16 assists, 36 points in 49 games)
14-F-Tyler Currier (11 goals, 22 assists, 33 points in 51 games)
29-G-Sean Maguire (10-7-3 record, 2.87 GAA, .904 Sv% in 21 games)
(28-16-3-3, 62 PTS, 4th North, 5th East)
182 GF, 178 GA
PP: 11.8% (26-for-220), 26th
PK: 85.3% (180-for-211), 2nd
97-F-David Vallorani (24 goals, 36 assists, 60 points in 50 games)
61-F-David Pacan (29 goals, 26 assists, 55 points in 45 games)
13-F-Brandon Marino (13 goals, 32 assists, 45 points in 50 games)
17-F-Brandon MacLean (19 goals, 22 assists, 41 points in 41 games)
14-F-Chris Leveille (10 goals, 21 assists, 31 points in 48 games)
25-D-Jordan Henry (6 goals, 17 assists, 23 points in 49 games)
30-G-Andrew D'Agostini (8-4-1 record, 3.27 GAA, .887 Sv% in 14 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Nailers 4, Beast 4
Season Series at Powerade Centre: Beast 2, Nailers 1
All-Time Series: Nailers 14, Beast 7
All-Time Series at Powerade Centre: Nailers 8, Beast 3
First Team to Five Wins
The Wheeling Nailers played a seesaw affair on Saturday night against the Kalamazoo Wings at WesBanco Arena, and despite the back-and-forth nature of the game, Wheeling never trailed. For the second straight contest, the Nailers got an early goal to take the lead, as Cody Wydo tipped in a power play goal at the 2:06 mark. Kalamazoo's Lane Scheidl responded for a 1-1 tie at the first intermission. Nick Sorkin got the scoring started in the middle frame with a power play strike, but that was answered by Josh Pitt. Next up in the scoring parade was Garrett Meurs for Wheeling, but back came the Wings once again, as Tyler Biggs turned on the red light for a 3-3 tie after two periods. Kevin Schulze was the first defenseman to find the back of the net, and he did so at the 5:36 mark of the third period. Scheidl's second of the contest evened things up, 4-4. With 3:12 left in regulation, Danny Fick gave the Nailers one final lead, slipping in a loose puck out of a scrum, and giving the tilt a 5-4 result. Doug Carr made 36 saves in the win, topping Joel Martin, who turned aside 37 shots in the loss.
Komets Make a Late Comeback
The Brampton Beast were less than a minute away from having a win wrapped up on Saturday night against the Fort Wayne Komets at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, but the game ended up turning in the other direction. Brandon MacLean needed just 16 seconds to open the scoring for the Beast, and he was followed by teammate Connor Crisp for a 2-0 advantage. Fort Wayne battled back with one goal in the first period and one in the second, before Brampton regained its lead on MacLean's second of the night with 6:53 left in the second period. The 3-2 score held all the way until the 19:11 mark of the third period, when Gabriel Desjardins brought over 9,000 Komets fans to their feet with the equalizer to force overtime. The home crowd was given one more opportunity to erupt, as Brett Perlini snapped the tie at 2:03 of the extra session for a 4-3 Fort Wayne win. Pat Nagle and Zachary Fucale both ended up with 22 saves, with Nagle earning the positive decision.
Wydo Joins the 20-Goal Club
The scoring in Saturday night's game was opened by Cody Wydo, who got a piece of Nick Sorkin's right circle shot to give the Nailers their first of five leads. Wydo is Wheeling's team leader in a pair of categories, which both involve putting the puck in the net. His 20 goals are tops on the squad, as are his nine power play goals. Sorkin's assist and a later goal put him in the number one spot on the list in power play points with 19. This is the second straight season in which Cody has reached 20 goals, as he finished second on the 2015-16 club with 23. It has been a few seasons since the Nailers had a player record back-to-back 20-goal campaigns. The last two players to achieve the feat were Chris Barton and Paul Crowder. Barton had 29 goals in 2011-12, then 23 the following year, while Crowder turned on the red light 23 times each in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Wheeling hasn't had a 30-goal scorer since 2009-10, when Thomas Beauregard potted 34.
We'll Miss Our House
The next seven games on the slate for the Nailers will all take place away from the friendly confines of WesBanco Arena, as the group will travel to Brampton, Toledo (2), Fort Wayne (3) and Indy over the course of the next two weeks. Wheeling will be looking to improve its road record, which currently sits two games under .500 at 10-12-1. Home ice has been a completely different story, as the Nailers have made life miserable on visiting teams, posting a 17-6-4 mark in the Ohio Valley. The 17 victories at home are tied for the fourth most in the ECHL, and with just nine regular season home games remaining, the team has guaranteed itself a winning record in Downtown Wheeling. That marks the 22nd time in 25 seasons that the Nailers have had a winning record at home. Monday's opponent, the Beast, enter play with a 13-8-3 record at Powerade Centre, and are one of 15 teams in the ECHL with a winning record both at home and on the road in 2016-17. Wheeling earned that distinction last season.
Three Games to Break the Tie
Monday afternoon marks the ninth of 11 head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Beast this season, as well as the fourth of five battles at Powerade Centre. Last week, Wheeling and Brampton split a two-game set at WesBanco Arena, with both sides prevailing 6-3, as the season series stayed knotted up at four wins each. Friday's win by the Beast was the first by a road club since the Nailers won in Canada on November 13th, and it also ended a three-game home winning streak for Wheeling in the set. The stat sheets have been filled up when the Nailers and Beast have collided in 2016-17, as the two North Division teams have combined for 57 goals (30-27 Wheeling) and 86 power play chances (47-39 Nailers). David Vallorani has been the top performer in the eight games, as he has 14 points for Brampton, while Kevin Schulze is Wheeling's leader with ten points. After Monday, two games will remain, as the Beast visit WesBanco Arena on December 31st, and the Nailers cross the border for a game on April 5th.