(26-17-4-0, 56 PTS, T-2nd North, T-4th East)
172 GF, 147 GA
PP: 21.7% (42-for-194), 1st
PK: 81.5% (154-for-189), 21st
11-F-Cody Wydo (18 goals, 26 assists, 44 points in 36 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (13 goals, 28 assists, 41 points in 42 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (15 goals, 23 assists, 38 points in 40 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (6 goals, 32 assists, 38 points in 45 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (5 goals, 18 assists, 23 points in 34 games)
15-F-Chris Francis (8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points in 25 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (10-7-1 record, 2.72 GAA, .912 Sv% in 19 games)
FORT WAYNE KOMETS
(28-13-2-0, 58 PTS, 2nd Central, 3rd West)
175 GF, 129 GA
PP: 17.2% (25-for-145), 13th
PK: 84.5% (153-for-181), 9th
27-F-Shawn Szydlowski (22 goals, 30 assists, 52 points in 38 games)
48-F-Garrett Thompson (19 goals, 24 assists, 43 points in 41 games)
14-F-Gabriel Desjardins (17 goals, 20 assists, 37 points in 32 games)
9-F-Mason Baptista (12 goals, 24 assists, 36 points in 38 games)
21-F-Marc-Olivier Roy (10 goals, 19 assists, 29 points in 21 games)
4-D-Jason Binkley (4 goals, 21 assists, 25 points, 42 games)
60-G-Garrett Bartus (10-2-0 record, 2.57 GAA, .905 Sv% in 14 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Komets 2, Nailers 1
Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 1, Komets 1
All-Time Series: Komets 10, Nailers 9
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 5, Komets 3
Pumping the Fuel
The Wheeling Nailers started February by picking up exactly where they left off in January, as they earned their third win of the homestand, destroying the Indy Fuel, 7-3 at WesBanco Arena on Friday night. Wheeling took control of the game early, jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the first period. Chris Francis squeezed in a goal 5:42 into the contest, before Kevin Schulze and Troy Josephs scored 1:07 apart from each other later in the stanza. Indy briefly closed the gap to one on the first of two strikes by Darian Dziurzynski, but the Nailers stormed right back, as Josephs and Francis both netted their second goals of the evening. Freddie Tiffels extended the advantage in the third period, and with less than one minute remaining, Josephs completed his hat trick on a breakaway. Adam Morrison made 26 saves for his tenth win of the season.
Similar Script in the Fort
The Fort Wayne Komets were also victorious on Friday night, as they took down the Rapid City Rush, 6-4 at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Marc-Olivier Roy brought the home fans to their feet right away, as he lit the lamp just 15 seconds after the opening face-off. Matt Caito drew Rapid City even at the 8:48 mark, before Mason Baptista helped the Komets regain the lead with 2:10 left in the first period. Fort Wayne's defensemen scored half of the goals in Friday's battle, starting with Ryan Lowney at 5:56 of period two. Cody Sol and Shawn Szydlowski added some padding to the lead in the early stages of the final frame, which turned out to be important, as the Rush made the score 5-4 with less than two minutes to play. Sol applied the final dagger with an empty netter in the dying seconds. Garrett Bartus backstopped his tenth win of the year with 25 saves.
A Trick and he Disappeared
Troy Josephs had a night to remember on Friday, as he scored the first hat trick of his professional career, continuing his personal dominance of the Fuel. Of his nine goals and 20 points on the season, five goals and eight points have come against Indy. Troy potted one goal in each period of the 7-3 triumph, banging in a rebound on the left side of the net for his first one, backhanding home a loose puck in the slot for his second one, and rifling a shot through the netminder's legs on a breakaway for the hat trick marker. Josephs became the fourth Nailer to record a hat trick this season, and for his efforts, he earned a call-up to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Reid Gardiner is joining Josephs in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, after extending his point streak to nine games with an assist on Friday's opening tally. Cam Brown's seven-game goal streak was halted, but he carries a nine-game point streak into Saturday's match.
Taking Aim at the Title
Over the last three seasons, the race for the most points by an individual player in the ECHL hasn't really been much of a race, as Chad Costello of the Allen Americans clobbered the field, posting three consecutive 100-point campaigns. His closest competition came in 2015-16, when he beat Colorado's Trent Daavettila by 23 points. Costello is playing in Europe this year, opening the door for the rest of the league. The last time he did not finish first in scoring, the title went to a Fort Wayne Komet, when Brandon Marino (now a Brampton Beast) led the way with 88 points. With just over two months left on the schedule, a Komet is in first place right now, as Shawn Szydlowski's 52 points are two better than former Nailer and current American Casey Pierro-Zabotel. Szydlowski has scored at least 25 goals in three straight seasons, and is three goals away from making a fourth consecutive year a reality.
Another Hoosier State Foe
Saturday night marks the fourth of six head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Komets this season, as well as the third of four battles at WesBanco Arena. Wheeling notched its first victory of the season series on January 7th, erasing a 2-0 deficit with four unanswered goals to defeat former teammate Sean Maguire, who has since joined the Utah Grizzlies. Both of the last two wins for the Nailers against Fort Wayne have come against former Wheeling netminders, as the Nailers scored six goals on Eric Hartzell in a 6-5 thriller last December. Earlier this season, the Komets picked up the first road win for either side since 2014-15. Despite missing the most recent tilt, Shawn Szydlowski is the leading scorer with four points in the set, while Cam Brown leads the Nailers with three points. The two clubs will close out the Wheeling portion of the series in 13 days, before the Nailers close out the regular season in the jungle on April 7th.