(34-27-8-1, 77 PTS, 5th North, 7th East)
238 GF, 238 GA
PP: 19.6% (55-for-281), 3rd
PK: 80.8% (227-for-281), 21st
8-F-Nick Sorkin (8 goals, 47 assists, 55 points in 67 games)
24-F-Reid Gardiner (28 goals, 26 assists, 54 points in 56 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (21 goals, 28 assists, 49 points in 59 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (16 goals, 32 assists, 48 points in 53 games)
14-F-Riley Bourbonnais (22 goals, 19 assists, 41 points in 65 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (8 goals, 22 assists, 30 points in 45 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (17-13-2 record, 3.09 GAA, .906 Sv% in 34 games)
(26-33-6-4, 62 PTS, 6th North, 10th East)
202 GF, 235 GA
PP: 14.3% (36-for-251), 23rd
PK: 86.1% (279-for-324), 3rd
13-F-Brandon Marino (19 goals, 40 assists, 59 points in 69 games)
48-F-Chris Leveille (18 goals, 33 assists, 51 points in 63 games)
22-F-Erik Bradford (16 goals, 34 assists, 50 points in 62 games)
17-F-Brandon MacLean (18 goals, 24 assists, 42 points in 60 games)
27-F-Alex Foster (14 goals, 23 assists, 37 points in 63 games)
12-D-Reggie Traccitto (13 goals, 19 assists, 32 points in 65 games)
34-G-Chris Driedger (7-6-1 record, 2.45 GAA, .922 Sv% in 14 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Nailers 3, Beast 2
Season Series at Powerade Centre: Nailers 1, Beast 1
All-Time Series: Nailers 18, Beast 11
All-Time Series at Powerade Centre: Nailers 9, Beast 6
A Fun Finish at Home
The Wheeling Nailers closed out the home portion of their 2017-18 regular season on Saturday night, as a crowd of 4,294 fans came out to support their local team at WesBanco Arena. The Nailers got on the scoreboard first, when Troy Josephs redirected in a pass from Reid Gardiner at the top of the crease. The visiting Manchester Monarchs evened things up 40 seconds later, but Wheeling took the lead back, thanks to Cam Brown's shorthanded strike from the left circle. Neither squad lit the lamp in the middle frame, but the Nailers pulled away in the third. Gardiner swiped in a power play goal from the left circle, and 1:12 after that, Nick Sorkin roofed a shot under the crossbar from the slot. Riley Bourbonnais tacked on the final Wheeling tally of the evening for what turned out to be a 5-2 triumph. Adam Morrison made 25 saves for his 17th win of the season.
No Help From Those Guys
The Brampton Beast could have done the Nailers a solid favor last weekend, as they played a pair of road games against the Worcester Railers at DCU Center. Unfortunately, Brampton lost both matches, as Worcester wrapped up its red hot month of March. In the opening tilt on Friday, the Railers scored early goals in all three periods, building a 3-0 advantage. The Beast attempted to rally back in the third period, as Jordan Henry ended the shutout bid at the 7:52 mark, and Alex Foster lit the lamp with 8:11 remaining. That was as close as Brampton could get, as Worcester prevailed, 3-2. On Saturday night, the Railers used special teams to put the Beast away, tallying two shorthanded goals and one power play marker to create yet another 3-0 lead. Brandon MacLean scored the lone goal for Brampton, who fell, 4-1. The goaltending battle was the same for both nights, as Mitch Gillam defeated Chris Driedger.
This Day is Up to Us
The final weekend of the ECHL's regular season begins on Friday night, and the Nailers currently find themselves three points behind the Worcester Railers for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. Worcester has Friday off, before playing a home-and-home series against the Manchester Monarchs on Saturday and Sunday, meaning that Wheeling can apply some pressure by closing to within one point. In order to keep their postseason hopes alive going into game 72, the Nailers must earn at least one point in Friday's clash with the Beast. 11 of 16 teams have already punched their tickets to the playoffs, three out of four division titles have been claimed, and thanks to a 5-1 win over Jacksonville on Thursday, the Florida Everblades captured their third Brabham Cup in team history.
Individual accolades have begun being received in the ECHL, as the league announced the members of the All-ECHL First Team, All-ECHL Second Team, and ECHL All-Rookie Team earlier this week. The Nailers had at least one player named to one of those teams for the fifth season in a row and ninth time in the last ten years. This season's player was Reid Gardiner, who made his way onto the ECHL All-Rookie Team, after amassing 28 goals, 26 assists, and 54 points in 56 games. Gardiner is the tenth Wheeling player to be named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team in the last ten seasons. The Nailers were one of 12 teams with at least one player receiving an honor, with the most decorated club being the Cincinnati Cyclones, who had three players appear on the three teams, including Justin Danforth, who made it onto the All-ECHL Second Team and ECHL All-Rookie Team, just as Wheeling's Kevin Schulze did last season.
Almost Bookending Trips
Friday night marks the sixth and final head-to-head meeting between the Nailers and Beast this season, as well as the third battle at Powerade Centre. Wheeling returns to Canada for the first time since the third week of the regular season, when it split a two-game set with Brampton on October 27th and 29th. The Nailers took the opening match, 6-5, before the Beast earned their first win of the year in the finale, 5-4. Since then, the two North Division rivals have played three games at WesBanco Arena, with Wheeling coming away victorious twice, to take a 3-2 lead in the season series. The most recent win was achieved on March 23rd, when a 4-3 decision officially eliminated Brampton from playoff contention. Three different players have six points in the set - Cam Brown and Nick Sorkin of the Nailers, and Luc-Olivier Blain of the Beast.