(34-30-8-0, 76 PTS, 5th North, 10th East)
244 GF, 239 GA
PP: 19.7% (66-for-335), 8th
PK: 75.0% (204-for-272), 27th
11-F-Cody Wydo (30 goals, 30 assists, 60 points in 70 games)
18-F-Hunter Fejes (18 goals, 20 assists, 38 points in 48 games)
19-F-Alexandre Carrier (3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points in 45 games)
26-D-Benjamin Dieudé-Fauvel (2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points in 65 games)
10-F-Johnny Daniels (6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points in 28 games)
27-D-Zach Tolkinen (3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points in 64 games)
1-G-Colin Stevens (10-18-5 record, 3.23 GAA, .893 Sv% in 33 games)
(36-29-6-1, 79 PTS, 5th South, 9th East)
200 GF, 209 GA
PP: 16.7% (39-for-234), 15th
PK: 81.3% (183-for-225), 20th
10-F-Shane Walsh (19 goals, 26 assists, 45 points in 71 games)
17-F-Winston Day Chief (14 goals, 25 assists, 39 points in 71 games)
63-F-Austin Block (12 goals, 23 assists, 35 points in 51 games)
41-F-Dominic Zombo (12 goals, 11 assists, 23 points in 63 games)
4-D-Chris Leone (6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points in 38 games)
8-F-Dylan Nowakowski (5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points in 28 games)
31-G-Jonas Johansson (3-3-1 record, 2.85 GAA, .892 Sv% in 7 AHL games)
2016-17 Season Series: Cyclones 3, Nailers 1
2016-17 Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 1, Cyclones 1
All-Time Series: Nailers 60, Cyclones 59
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 32, Cyclones 26
A Thrilling Way to Start
The Wheeling Nailers and Cincinnati Cyclones gave the fans an exciting start to the preseason on Friday night, as the opening contest featured nine goals, a fight, some big hits, and a shootout. The Nailers got the scoring started with a pair of tallies from Nick Sorkin, who capitalized on opportunities at the side of the crease on both occasions. Cincinnati came back with a late first period marker by Justin Danforth and an early second period strike by Winston Day Chief to pull even, 2-2. In the third period, the scoring ramped up, as both clubs lit the lamp twice, forcing extra time with a 4-4 deadlock. Wheeling's third period goals were scored by Riley Bourbonnais and Hunter Fejes, while the Cyclones got both of their scores from Anthony Florentino. Overtime didn't settle the score, but the shootout did. Cam Brown and Danforth exchanged goals in the fourth round, before Garrett Meurs netted the decided marker in round six, which was followed by a Colin Stevens save on Andrew Radjenovic.
We're on the Board
While preseason numbers may not count towards overall statistics and standings, goals remain the same as they are in the regular season, as everyone takes the ice in search of victories. On Friday night, the Nailers captured their first preseason win since October 10, 2014, as they ended a five-game winless streak against the Cyclones. The win was Wheeling's fifth in 13 exhibition matches against Cincinnati, dating back to 2010. The only year during that stretch in which the Nailers and Cyclones didn't clash during the preseason was 2013, when Cincinnati took a trip to Alaska, while Wheeling did battle with Elmira, Fort Wayne, and Reading. This is the second time in the seven preseason sets that both tilts are being played at WesBanco Arena. The last time was 2014, when the Nailers earned a win in the opener, before the Cyclones exacted revenge in the rematch.
A Small, but Standard Increase
Throughout the NHL preseason, much was made about the increase in penalties assessed, as there was a heavy crackdown on slashes and face-off violations. Last season, games involving the Nailers saw an average of 8.43 power plays. The number of power plays that were awarded on Friday night was a tad higher, as Cincinnati received six to Wheeling's five for an overall total of 11. Five of the 11 were the result of slashes, four came from roughing minors, and there was one hook and one trip. The Cyclones took advantage of their chances on the power play, converting on three of six opportunities, including both of their goals in the third period. The Nailers scored their final tally of the evening on the power play, but had numerous quality chances during their other times with an opponent in the sin bin.
Switching up the Lineups
Nearly all of the players who didn't get an opportunity to play on Friday will suit up in Sunday's preseason finale. The most notable name who will make his preseason debut for Wheeling is Cody Wydo, who finished tied for the team lead with 60 points in 2016-17, while leading the squad with 30 goals. Returning players Ross McMullan and Alexandre Carrier are also expected to get their first looks in the 2017 preseason. New faces to the team who will don a Wheeling sweater for the first time include Benjamin Dieudé-Fauvel and Bryan Arneson, while Craig Skudalski saw exhibition action last October. Cincinnati will insert two players who spent significant time in the ECHL last season. Forward Austin Block collected 35 points in 51 games with the Orlando Solar Bears, and defenseman Brycen Martin split the campaign between the Elmira Jackals and AHL's Rochester Americans. Former third round draft pick Jonas Johansson is expected to get the nod between the pipes for the Cyclones, who will also see preseason debuts by Matt Geurts and Nick Neville.
See You at the Party in Two Weeks
Wheeling and Cincinnati will be very accustomed to seeing each other by the time the regular season is four weeks old. Following their two-game preseason series this weekend, the two nearby rivals will meet again in the Nailers home opener on October 21st. Two weeks after that, the Cyclones will return to town for the second of six scheduled meetings in the regular season on November 3rd. Wheeling will make its first visit to Cincinnati on November 24th. While Friday night's shootout result doesn't count toward the all-time series, it followed the theme of the last three years, as ten of the last 12 regular season battles between the teams have been decided by one goal. The last time the Nailers and Cyclones went to a shootout during regular season play was December 7, 2013, when Sahir Gill netted the deciding goal in a 2-1 Wheeling win.