(29-23-6-0, 64 PTS, 4th North, 6th East)
205 GF, 198 GA
PP: 20.2% (48-for-238), 3rd
PK: 80.2% (182-for-227), 22nd
11-F-Cody Wydo (23 goals, 29 assists, 52 points in 44 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (7 goals, 40 assists, 47 points in 56 games)
24-F-Reid Gardiner (26 goals, 19 assists, 45 points in 44 games)
14-F-Riley Bourbonnais (20 goals, 15 assists, 35 points in 53 games)
7-F-Freddie Tiffels (10 goals, 13 assists, 23 points in 30 games)
5-D-Danny Fick (2 goals, 17 assists, 19 points in 56 games)
31-G-Matt O'Connor (2-9-2 record, 4.37 GAA, .874 Sv% in 13 games)
(25-23-4-3, 57 PTS, 5th North, T-8th East)
150 GF, 161 GA
PP: 12.6% (24-for-190), 26th
PK: 82.1% (156-for-190), 18th
19-F-Barry Almeida (18 goals, 30 assists, 48 points in 53 games)
21-F-Chris Langkow (16 goals, 26 assists, 42 points in 44 games)
18-F-Nick Saracino (8 goals, 17 assists, 25 points in 44 games)
16-F-Jeff Kubiak (10 goals, 13 assists, 23 points in 51 games)
23-F-Woody Hudson (16 goals, 6 assists, 22 points in 50 games)
3-D-Ben Masella (2 goals, 13 assists, 15 points in 54 games)
35-G-Mitch Gillam (12-12-1 record, 2.48 GAA, .913 Sv% in 27 games)
Head to Head
Season/All-Time Series: Nailers 3, Railers 2
Season/All-Time Series at DCU Center: Nailers 2, Railers 1
The Trip Ends Here
The Wheeling Nailers will complete their six-game road trip on Saturday night, and they have an opportunity to finish with a .500 record, having gone 1-2-2 in the first five contests. On Friday night, the Nailers played the first of two matches against the Worcester Railers at DCU Center, and unfortunately, did not end up with the desired result, as they fell, 5-0. Matt O'Connor played his first game of the season for Wheeling, after appearing with Atlanta, Quad City, and Manchester. He made 30 saves on 35 shots. The Nailers are 13-13-4 away from WesBanco Arena, with six road games remaining on the slate. The shutout loss was the third of the season for Wheeling, who has bounced back well offensively after the first two, going 1-0-1 with nine goals scored. The Nailers are 1-1-1 in the first three of 11 straight tilts against the North Division.
The Worcester Railers took the ice in Captain America jerseys on Friday night, and just like the Nailers got in November, the special uniforms produced a winning result. Worcester came out on fire in the first period, opening up a 3-0 advantage during the opening 12 minutes of play. Barry Almeida got the scoring started at the 1:24 mark, depositing Chris Langkow's cross-crease pass. Langkow was involved in the scoring of all three markers during the stanza, as he notched the second one himself while his team was shorthanded, then proceeded to set up the third one, which was batted out of the air by Nick Saracino. TJ Syner cashed in on a rebound for the lone tally in the middle frame, before Ryan MacKinnon's first pro strike put the finishing touches on the 5-0 result for the Railers. Mitch Gillam backstopped his third shutout of the year, turning aside all 30 shots he faced.
A Nice Round Number
Goaltender Matt O'Connor made his Wheeling debut on Friday night, becoming the 50th player to appear in a game with the Nailers this season. 38 of the 50 have been in the lineup at least once since the start of February, while Friday marked the sixth consecutive contest in which at least one player was donning the uniform for the first time. This is the fifth time in team history that at least 50 players have been used in a season, with the team record standing at 53, which was set during the 2007-08 campaign. Over the course of the team's 26-year history, 786 different players have appeared in at least one game. Saturday is the 59th game of the season for the Nailers, and three players have dressed in over 50 - Dan Milan (58), Nick Sorkin (56), and Riley Bourbonnais (53). After Wheeling, the next highest total amount of players in the ECHL this season belongs to Brampton (48), while Kalamazoo (26) is on the other end of the spectrum with the least.
Two Contrasting Styles
Despite playing in the same division, Wheeling and Worcester are completely different teams when it comes to the types of games they play. The Nailers are typically involved in high scoring contests, as their offense ranks fifth in the ECHL, scoring 3.53 goals per game, while their defense is 20th, surrendering 3.41 goals per game to the opposition. The Railers defend well, giving up the seventh fewest goals in the league, at an average of 2.93 per game. However, their offense has had its struggles, checking in with the second lowest total among the teams, lighting the lamp just 2.73 times per game. While their goal totals may differ, one thing that Wheeling and Worcester can agree with is its ability to get into disagreements. The Railers lead the North Division with 36 fighting majors, while the Nailers are tied for second in the group with 34. Five of those have come against each other, including three between Jeremy Beirnes and Yannick Turcotte, who are both in the top-five in the ECHL.
March Madness in the Set
Saturday night marks the sixth of nine head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Railers, as well as the fourth of five battles at DCU Center. This will be the second of five tilts between the two clubs during the month of March, and a quick glance at the standings shows the importance of the games. Wheeling currently holds a seven-point lead over Worcester for the final playoff spot in the North Division, while the Railers hold three games in hand. Reading got smoked by Jacksonville on Friday, keeping the Nailers three points back of the Royals for third. Both teams have earned at least one point in three of the five games, with both sides winning twice in regulation, while Wheeling has the lead in the season series, thanks to a shootout triumph at home. Worcester's Nick Saracino leads the way with seven points, while Reid Gardiner and Cody Wydo each have six points for the Nailers. The Railers will host Manchester on Sunday, before traveling to the Friendly City for a Wednesday morning match.