(12-6-2-0, 26 PTS, T-1st North, T-2nd East)
81 GF, 69 GA
PP: 26.0% (25-for-96), 1st
PK: 76.8% (73-for-95), 25th
11-F-Cody Wydo (11 goals, 15 assists, 26 points in 19 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (12 goals, 11 assists, 23 points in 19 games)
24-F-Reid Gardiner (11 goals, 12 assists, 23 points in 20 games)
11-F-Cam Brown (3 goals, 17 assists, 20 points in 20 games)
16-F-Derek Army (7 goals, 12 assists, 19 points in 20 games)
5-D-Danny Fick (7 assists, 7 points in 20 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (0-2-0 record, 4.08 GAA, .846 Sv% in 2 games)
FORT WAYNE KOMETS
(9-6-2-0, 20 PTS, 4th Central, T-8th West)
63 GF, 53 GA
PP: 19.0% (12-for-63), 9th
PK: 89.2% (66-for-74), 3rd
27-F-Shawn Szydlowski (8 goals, 10 assists, 18 points in 15 games)
48-F-Garrett Thompson (6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points in 17 games)
4-D-Jason Binkley (2 goals, 12 assists, 14 points in 17 games)
14-F-Gabriel Desjardins (7 goals, 4 assists, 11 points in 9 games)
24-F-Dennis Kravchenko (6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points in 12 games)
55-D-Ryan Culkin (4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points in 17 games)
41-G-Michael Houser (6-5-2 record, 3.10 GAA, .890 Sv% in 13 games)
Head to Head
2016-17 Season Series: Komets 4, Nailers 1
2016-17 Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 1, Komets 0
All-Time Series: Nailers 8, Komets 8
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 4, Komets 2
The Force is Strong with this Team
The Wheeling Nailers picked up a huge divisional victory on Saturday night, as they exacted revenge on the Reading Royals, winning 5-4 in overtime, to remain tied for first place in the North Division. Reading struck first for the second straight night, but Wheeling had an answer, as Zach Tolkinen tossed in his first tally of the season. In the second period, the Nailers put forth a strong showing, lighting the lamp three times to take a 4-2 lead. Hunter Fejes gave the club its first advantage of the contest, ripping in a shot off of a face-off. Next up was Tolkinen with his second of the evening, and then Cam Brown joined the party, slamming in a rebound from the right side of the slot. The Royals clawed back to knot the score in the third period, but overtime went Wheeling's way. Garrett Meurs stole a pass from goaltender Mark Dekanich, and made him pay, immediately burying a wrist shot. Will King was the winning netminder, making 39 saves.
A Saturday to Recover
The Fort Wayne Komets are also coming off of a significant win, as they needed a shootout to defeat the Toledo Walleye, 3-2 on Friday night. Things weren't looking so good early on for the host Komets, who fell behind the Walleye 2-0 in the opening stanza on goals by Kyle Bonis and Erik Bradford. After a scoreless second period, Fort Wayne made its comeback relatively quickly in the third. Shawn Szydlowski scored the teddy bear goal at the 3:45 mark, trimming the margin to one, and 1:24 later, Ryan Culkin got the equalizer, roofing a shot into the top-right corner of the cage. The 2-2 deadlock went to overtime and eventually a shootout, and that's where the Komets prevailed, as Szydlowski was the only goal scorer. Michael Houser turned aside 18 of 20 shots during the game, then was perfect on three shootout attempts, backstopping the win.
Something About Number 23
The overtime winning goal on Saturday night for the Nailers was scored by Garrett Meurs, who found the back of the net during bonus hockey for the second time during the 2017-18 season. Meurs' other overtime goal was scored in the second game of the season, when Wheeling hopped past the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 7-6. The overtime win over Reading was the first at home for the Nailers since the memorable game seven victory in the 2016 Eastern Conference Semifinal, when Riley Brace sent WesBanco Arena into a frenzy. Interestingly enough, the last regular season overtime win at home for Wheeling against the Royals was also decided by Riley Brace, who, like Meurs, wore number 23 on the back of his jersey. The Nailers are now 4-2 in games that go past regulation, with five of the six tilts being decided during the five-minute overtime period.
We Have a Gordie
The first Gordie Howe Hat Trick of the season was recorded by a Wheeling player in Saturday night's triumph, and the player who achieved the feat was Hunter Fejes. The first item that Fejes checked off was the fight, as he dropped the gloves with Matt Wilkins during the final minute of the first period. Next up was the goal, and Hunter took care of that on his first shift after returning from the fight, scoring at the 4:37 mark of the second period. Finally, the assist made its way onto the scoresheet with 8:05 to go in the middle frame, as Cam Brown deposited the rebound of Fejes' initial opportunity. The Gordie Howe Hat Trick was the first for the Nailers since Garrett Meurs did so against Brampton on February 17th. Other notable performances on Saturday night included a two-goal game by Zach Tolkinen and two-point nights for Cam Brown and Garrett Meurs.
Lots of History in These Cities
Sunday afternoon marks the first of six head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Komets this season, as well as the first of four battles at WesBanco Arena. Last season, the home teams were perfect in the five matches played. Wheeling was the first team to get into the win column, doing so on December 16th, when Adam Krause's hat trick helped the Nailers erase a 4-0 deficit for a 6-5 victory. Unfortunately, the next four games all went Fort Wayne's way, as Allen County War Memorial Coliseum was certainly friendly to the Komets in 2016-17. Wheeling and Fort Wayne are two of the more historic teams in the ECHL. The Nailers are playing their 26th season in Wheeling the longest run for any team in the league. Meanwhile, although it is only their sixth year in the ECHL, the Komets are celebrating their 66th season of existence.