(13-9-2-0, 28 PTS, T-2nd North, T-4th East)
90 GF, 79 GA
PP: 23.1% (25-for-108), 1st
PK: 78.5% (84-for-107), 24th
11-F-Cody Wydo (12 goals, 16 assists, 28 points in 23 games)
24-F-Reid Gardiner (11 goals, 13 assists, 24 points in 24 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (12 goals, 11 assists, 23 points in 21 games)
11-F-Cam Brown (3 goals, 19 assists, 22 points in 24 games)
18-F-Hunter Fejes (13 goals, 6 assists, 19 points in 24 games)
5-D-Danny Fick (8 assists, 8 points in 23 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (1-5-0 record, 3.05 GAA, .897 Sv% in 6 games)
(7-10-2-1, 17 PTS, T-6th Central, T-12th West)
58 GF, 64 GA
PP: 19.8% (16-for-81), 7th
PK: 85.9% (73-for-85), 8th
43-F-Cam Reid (6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points in 18 games)
23-F-Nick Bligh (7 goals, 7 assists, 14 points in 20 games)
10-F-Alex Wideman (6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points in 20 games)
22-F-Ryan Rupert (5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points in 16 games)
21-F-Michael Neal (7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points in 14 games)
4-D-Nolan Descoteaux (1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points in 20 games)
30-G-Matt Tomkins (3-0-0, 1.45 GAA, .962 Sv% in 4 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Nailers 1, Fuel 1
Season Series at WesBanco Arena: First Meeting
All-Time Series: Fuel 6, Nailers 5
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Fuel 2, Nailers 1
The Empire Struck Back
The Wheeling Nailers played the role of "The Empire," as they visited the Toledo Walleye for their Star Wars Night on Saturday. After dropping its previous visit to Huntington Center, The Empire struck back, as Wheeling collected a 4-2 victory. The win started with two goals in a span of 12 seconds during the first period, as Jarrett Burton converted on a one-timer from the left face-off dot, and Troy Josephs tapped in a pass on the left side of the net. Hunter Fejes tallied in the second period for the Nailers, capitalizing off of a turnover, which he created. Toledo trimmed the margin down to one on a couple of occasions, but at the 2:52 mark of the final frame, Burton added a key insurance goal, securing the two points for the visitors. Adam Morrison backstopped his first win in a Wheeling uniform, making 24 saves on 26 shots.
Silencing the Thunder
The Indy Fuel achieved something on Saturday that not many teams have been able to in the 2017-18 season, as they walloped the Wichita Thunder, 7-1 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The loss was just the fourth in regulation for Wichita. The offensive attack began just 2:51 into the contest, when Michael Neal's marker led to the Teddy Bear Toss. Matt Rupert extended the lead less than four minutes later, before the Thunder had their lone celebration of the night. Cam Reid helped Indy reestablish its two-goal lead in the opening stanza, as the home squad took control. Despite being outshot 16-7, the middle period was all Fuel, as they scored on four of those seven shots, with Nathan Noel, Johnny McInnis, Reid, and Neal all denting the twine. Shane Owen got chased from the crease, and Joel Rumpel didn't fare much better. On the other side, Matt Tomkins was tremendous, stopping 40 of the 41 shots he faced.
Big Goal Burton
Jarrett Burton has had a knack for scoring big goals at big times, which was displayed in the greatest of fashions, when he netted three game winning strikes in Wheeling's Eastern Conference Final victory over the South Carolina Stingrays in 2016. In addition to scoring the winner in game seven, he also decided overtime tilts in games two and six. The Nailers received Burton from the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday, and he made an immediate impact in the lineup. Despite being held off of the scoresheet on Friday, he was valuable in the face-off circle, and on Saturday night, his hard work paid off, as he scored twice during the 4-2 triumph at Toledo. Jarrett made his Wheeling debut all the way back on March 30, 2014, and joins Derek Army as the two players on the 2017-18 roster who have played in parts of five seasons with the Nailers.
Announcing his Return
Matt Tomkins missed 14 games due to an injury he suffered on October 25th in Florida, but he made his return to the lineup in a big way last weekend. The rookie goaltender out of The Ohio State University turned aside 48 of 50 shots against the Nailers on Friday, then denied 40 of 41 attempts by Wichita on Saturday, helping the Fuel to back-to-back wins, while earning ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors. Prior to his injury, Tomkins made 40 saves on 42 shots in tilts against the Tulsa Oilers and Florida Everblades. While ECHL Goaltender of the Week is certainly a proud accomplishment, it can also be the kiss of death for Wheeling opponents. Earlier this season, Toledo's Pat Nagle came to WesBanco Arena after taking home the honor, and lost 4-3 in overtime. Last season, the Nailers faced Norfolk's Brandon Anderson and Toledo's Jake Paterson in their first games after winning the awards, and promptly torched them for nine and five goals respectively.
Let's Play One Here for a Change
Tuesday night marks the third of five head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Fuel this season, as well as the first of three battles at WesBanco Arena. Since Indy joined the ECHL in 2014, the two teams have clashed on 11 occasions, but eight of those 11 have been played at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, including each of the last five, dating back to the 2015-16 season. In fact, the last time the Fuel traveled to the Friendly City was 23 months ago, on January 10, 2016. Indy edged the depleted Nailers, 3-2 that day, as Wheeling had yet to build up for its run to the Kelly Cup Final. This season, the two teams from opposite conferences have both recorded one win against each other, with the Nailers winning 5-1 on November 4th, and the Fuel winning 3-2 on December 8th. Indy comes back to town again on New Year's Eve, then again on Groundhog Day to close out the set.