(33-27-8-1, 75 PTS, 4th North, 6th East)
233 GF, 236 GA
PP: 19.6% (54-for-276), 3rd
PK: 80.7% (222-for-275), 21st
8-F-Nick Sorkin (7 goals, 46 assists, 53 points in 66 games)
24-F-Reid Gardiner (27 goals, 25 assists, 52 points in 55 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (21 goals, 28 assists, 49 points in 58 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (15 goals, 31 assists, 46 points in 52 games)
14-F-Riley Bourbonnais (21 goals, 19 assists, 40 points in 64 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (8 goals, 21 assists, 29 points in 44 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (16-13-2 record, 3.12 GAA, .906 Sv% in 33 games)
(40-22-3-3, 86 PTS, 1st North, 3rd North)
249 GF, 203 GA
PP: 18.8% (55-for-293), 6th
PK: 84.8% (235-for-277), 8th
10-F-Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman (34 goals, 37 assists, 71 points in 66 games)
21-F-Spencer Watson (23 goals, 20 assists, 43 points in 44 games)
24-F-Michael Doherty (19 goals, 23 assists, 42 points in 64 games)
25-F-Matt Schmalz (22 goals, 17 assists, 39 points in 55 games)
26-F-Matt Marcinew (11 goals, 23 assists, 34 points in 48 games)
6-D-David Kolomatis (6 goals, 23 assists, 29 points in 54 games)
31-G-Evan Cowley (8-8-1 record, 3.23 GAA, .900 Sv% in 17 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Nailers 3, Monarchs 2
Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 2, Monarchs 1
All-Time Series: Nailers 5, Monarchs 3
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 4, Monarchs 1
Tough Time in Toledo
The Wheeling Nailers had a difficult task on their hands on Friday night, as they tried to prevent the Toledo Walleye from reaching the 100-point plateau. Toledo got on the board quickly in front of its sellout crowd of 8,000 fans at Huntington Center, as Shane Berschbach scored from the right circle 1:13 into the contest. That looked like it would be the only goal of the opening stanza, until Charlie O'Connor trickled a loose puck over the goal line with two seconds left on the clock. Colin Jacobs added to the Walleye advantage in the middle frame, chipping in a shot from the right side. Both teams recorded shorthanded goals in the third period, with Christian Hilbrich striking for Toledo, and Chris Francis collecting his third goal in four games for the Nailers. Pat Nagle made 32 saves for his 35th win of the season, while Danny Tirone stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced for Wheeling.
Reading Rallies Back
The Manchester Monarchs are closing out a three-game road week, which has started with back-to-back losses to the Reading Royals. After getting stomped 6-0 on Wednesday, the Monarchs came out hungry for revenge on Friday. Manchester roared out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Michael Doherty, Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman, and Kevin Morris. As strong as that start was, the second period belonged to the Royals, who netted three goals of their own to pull even. Alexx Privitera put the Monarchs back on top at the 9:40 mark of the third period, only to watch Reading square the match again, as Ryan Penny notched his second marker of the night. The 4-4 draw progressed to overtime and eventually a shootout. Michael Huntebrinker scored in the first round for the Royals, and John Muse denied all three Manchester shooters, as Reading prevailed, 5-4.
Preparing for the Division Rivalry
Although Friday night was their final match of the year, the Nailers and Walleye left each other in intense fashion, as they prepare to play in the same division in 2018-19. Friday's clash featured four fights, starting at the 10:47 mark of the first period, when Andrew Schmit threw a huge hit on Austen Brassard, and was promptly asked to throw down the gloves. In the middle frame, Dan Milan crushed Shane Berschbach as he crossed the blueline, leading to A.J. Jenks asking Milan to tussle. The last five minutes of the night featured a pair of fisticuffs, as Jeremy Beirnes recorded his league-leading 20th fighting major of the season against Connor Crisp, and Milan chucked the knuckles with Brassard with 25 seconds to go. Wheeling is in the middle of the pack when it comes to its number of fights, having been involved in 42 on the year.
One Spot Left in the North
Three of the four tickets in the North Divsion Playoff Picture have been punched, as the Adirondack Thunder and Reading Royals both clinched postseason berths on Friday night. For a while, it was starting to look like Reading was going to end up safely in third place, but the Royals now find themselves just one point back of the Thunder for second, as the teams go head-to-head on Saturday night in Glens Falls. The Manchester Monarchs have a three-point lead over Adirondack, with each of the top three teams having played 68 games. Wheeling's lead over the Worcester Railers for fourth place is now one point, as Worcester skated out to a 3-0 lead, before holding on to edge the Brampton Beast, 3-2 on Friday night. Those two teams will meet again on Saturday at DCU Center. 11 of the 16 playoff spots in the ECHL have been claimed, including seven of the eight in the Eastern Conference.
Good Success Against the Leaders
Saturday night marks the sixth and final head-to-head meeting between the Nailers and Monarchs this season, as well as the fourth battle at WesBanco Arena. Wheeling has performed well against its North Division opponents in 2017-18, entering play with a 17-12-5 record, which includes a 5-2-2 mark against Manchester and Adirondack. The Nailers will be looking to win the season series against the Monarchs for the second year in a row, as they have won three of the first five clashes. The most recent of those wins was Wheeling's first ever at SNHU Arena on February 28th, when six different players dented the twine in the 6-3 triumph. Four different Nailers have amassed four points against Manchester - Chris Francis, Reid Gardiner, Nick Sorkin, and Cody Wydo, while Keegan Iverson leads the Monarchs with six points against Wheeling.