(34-28-8-1, 77 PTS, 5th North, 7th East)
241 GF, 242 GA
PP: 19.2% (55-for-287), 3rd
PK: 80.9% (229-for-283), 21st
24-F-Reid Gardiner (29 goals, 26 assists, 55 points in 57 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (8 goals, 47 assists, 55 points in 68 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (21 goals, 29 assists, 50 points in 60 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (16 goals, 34 assists, 50 points in 54 games)
14-F-Riley Bourbonnais (22 goals, 19 assists, 41 points in 66 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (8 goals, 22 assists, 30 points in 46 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (17-14-2 record, 3.12 GAA, .905 Sv% in 35 games)
FORT WAYNE KOMETS
(45-19-5-1, 96 PTS, 2nd Central, 3rd West)
281 GF, 206 GA
PP: 18.0% (42-for-233), 9th
PK: 84.0% (241-for-287), 12th
27-F-Shawn Szydlowski (30 goals, 47 assists, 77 points in 62 games)
48-F-Garrett Thompson (29 goals, 42 assists, 71 points in 65 games)
14-F-Gabriel Desjardins (31 goals, 33 assists, 64 points in 56 games)
9-F-Mason Baptista (17 goals, 30 assists, 47 points in 60 games)
24-F-Dennis Kravchenko (18 goals, 26 assists, 44 points in 49 games)
17-D-Bobby Shea (8 goals, 25 assists, 33 points in 63 games)
41-G-Michael Houser (27-11-4 record, 2.72 GAA, .910 Sv% in 44 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Komets 4, Nailers 1
Season Series at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum: Komets 1, Nailers 0
All-Time Series: Komets 12, Nailers 9
All-Time Series at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum: Komets 7, Nailers 4
The Magic Comes to an End
The Wheeling Nailers will see their 2017-18 season finish on Saturday night, as they were officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Brampton Beast on Friday. Wheeling got off to a fast start, as Freddie Tiffels opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the right circle at the 3:13 mark of the first period. However, Brampton bounced back to take the lead with a couple of shorthanded goals, as Brandon Marino banged in the rebound of Erik Bradford's drive to the net, and Brandon MacLean was the beneficiary of a crazy hop. Luc-Olivier Blain made the score 3-1 for the Beast in the early goings of the middle frame, but Reid Gardiner was quick to answer with a 4-on-4 goal. The teams exchanged strikes later in the stanza, with Scott Jacklin scoring for Brampton and Troy Josephs getting credit for the Nailers. Unfortunately, Wheeling was unable to knot things up in the third period, as the Beast prevailed on home ice.
Overcoming Their Nemesis
The Fort Wayne Komets have been sent home in two of the last three seasons by the Toledo Walleye, and the two teams are likely on a crash course to meet up in the Central Division Final this spring. However, this year could be a different story for the Komets, who have gone 6-2-0 against the division champions, including a 5-2 win at Huntington Center on Friday night. Shane Berschbach got the scoring started for the Walleye, before the Komets responded with Anthony Petruzzelli's first pro goal and Gabriel Desjardins' 30th tally of the campaign. Jason Binkley put Fort Wayne ahead 3-2 in the middle frame, before the visitors put the tilt away in the third period on Phelix Martineau's first career marker, then Desjardins' second of the evening. Michael Houser backstopped the victory with 32 saves, as the Komets were the only team in the ECHL to win twice in Toledo this season.
Consistent in the Last Decade
Despite the fact that postseason play wasn't in the cards this season, the Nailers posted a winning record for the tenth year in a row, as they enter the season finale with a 34-28-9 mark, good for 77 points. The last decade has been incredibly consistent for Wheeling, who hasn't run away with a division title, and hasn't finished at the bottom of the barrel. Since 2008-09, the Nailers highest point total in a season was 84, which was achieved in 2013-14, when the team reached the second round of the playoffs. The lowest point total during that time was 73, which occurred in 2009-10, when the squad missed out on postseason play by four points. Wheeling has reached the 80-point plateau in five of the ten campaigns, with all five resulting in trips to the postseason. That leaves five seasons of less than 80 points, which has produced just one playoff appearance.
Flooding the Plus Category
With 45 wins and 96 points on the season, it should come as no surprise that the Komets have lots of players on the high side of the +/- chart, as they enter their final two games of the regular season. Shawn Szydlowski has a chance to lead the ECHL in two different categories this season, as his +40 is tied with Florida's Logan Roe for the top spot in the league, while his 77 points are two better than Cincinnati's Justin Schultz, who visits Fort Wayne on Sunday. The Komets have three other players who have eclipsed the +30 mark - Curtis Leonard (+34), Gabriel Desjardins (+33), and Bobby Shea (+32), and a total of ten players at +20 or better. Sydlowski (30) and Desjardins (31) have both recorded at least 30 goals, with Garrett Thompson (29) knocking on the door. On Wheeling's side, Reid Gardiner and Nick Sorkin enter the last game of the year one point back of Cody Wydo for the team's scoring title.
Tame the Jungle
Saturday night marks the sixth and final head-to-head meeting between the Nailers and Komets this season, as well as the second battle at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Fort Wayne has clinched the season series for the third year in a row, after posting a 3-1-0 record at WesBanco Arena, to go along with a win in the lone match on home ice. The Nailers will be looking for their first road win against the Komets since January 2, 2015, when they erased 3-0 and 4-3 deficits for a 5-4 shootout triumph. In the most recent clash between the squads, Fort Wayne snapped a 3-3 tie with 33 seconds left to edge Wheeling 4-3 in the Friendly City. Gabriel Desjardins of the Komets has been the most productive player in the set, collecting eight points. Chris Francis has four points to lead the Nailers. Wheeling's last two wins against Fort Wayne have both been against former Nailers goaltenders - Eric Hartzell and Sean Maguire.