(9-3-2-0, 20 PTS, T-1st North, T-2nd East)
60 GF, 50 GA
PP: 27.6% (21-for-76), 1st
PK: 75.7% (56-for-74), 25th
11-F-Cody Wydo (8 goals, 12 assists, 20 points in 14 games)
24-F-Reid Gardiner (11 goals, 8 assists, 19 points in 14 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (9 goals, 8 assists, 17 points in 13 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (3 goals, 13 assists, 16 points in 14 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (2 goals, 14 assists, 16 points in 14 games)
27-D-Zach Tolkinen (4 assists, 4 points in 14 games)
31-G-Sean Maguire (6-2-0 record, 3.64 GAA, .906 Sv% in 9 games)
(7-6-1-0, 15 PTS, 6th North, 10th East)
38 GF, 40 GA
PP: 12.5% (7-for-56), 24th
PK: 84.7% (50-for-59), 12th
4-D-Patrick McNally (6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points in 14 games)
21-F-Chris Langkow (2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points in 13 games)
9-F-Kellen Jones (4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points in 14 games)
19-F-Barry Almeida (3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points in 13 games)
12-F-Wade Murphy (3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points in 10 games)
88-F-Ashton Rome (5 goals, 2 assists, 7 points in 13 games)
39-G-Eamon McAdam (4-3-1 record, 2.76 GAA, .917 Sv% in 8 games)
Head to Head
All-Time Series: First Meeting
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: First Meeting
A Split at the Scope
The Wheeling Nailers split their two-game weekend series on the road against the Norfolk Admirals, winning the opener 6-2 on Friday, before falling 4-1 on Saturday. In the finale, Wheeling ran into penalty trouble early, as the visiting squad was forced to kill seven Norfolk power plays during the first period. The Nailers were successful on five of seven tries, but the Admirals grabbed a 2-0 lead, thanks to a slap shot from the point by Joonas Lyytinen and a wrist shot from the top of the right circle by Brodie Dupont. Norfolk added to its advantage early in the middle frame, when Kenton Helgesen tapped in a feed on the left side of the crease. Garrett Meurs got Wheeling on the scoreboard in the third period, winding through the defense, but one more marker from Lyytinen solidified the win for the Admirals. Ty Reichenbach made 35 saves to defeat Will King, who stopped 30 shots in his second start as a Nailer.
Manchester Stuck in the Rails
The Worcester Railers have played six of their first 14 games against the Manchester Monarchs, including two each over the course of the last two weekends. The Monarchs got the upper hand on November 11th and 12th, sweeping a home-and-home series, but last weekend, the Railers got their revenge, earning a home-and-home sweep. In Friday night's opener, Matthew Gaudreau snapped a 1-1 tie with 1:08 left in the second period, and Eamon McAdam made that goal stand up as the winner, making 29 saves in a 2-1 triumph. On Sunday, Worcester surrendered the first goal for the second straight game, but stormed back with four consecutive tallies for a 4-1 victory. Gaudreau and Ashton Rome scored in both tilts, while Kellen Jones and Kyle McKenzie both turned on the red light in Sunday's win. McAdam was the winning netminder once again, coming up with 28 stops.
Freddie Goes up, and Here's Johnny
Freddie Tiffels spent two weeks with the Nailers, and his performance was noteworthy, as he produced three goals, four assists, and seven points in six games, including a two-goal, three-point outing on Education Day against the Adirondack Thunder. Tiffels was reassigned to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday, opening up the door for Johnny Daniels to make his season debut. Daniels collected six goals and ten points in 25 games with Wheeling last season, led by a hat trick in 57 seconds against the Quad City Mallards on March 11th. Johnny joins a group of forwards in which eight players have already reached double digits in points. Cody Wydo is the leader with 20 points, although he had his ten-game point streak come to an end on Saturday night. The Nailers rank second in the ECHL with 4.29 goals per game, while the Railers rank tied for 25th with 2.71 goals per game.
Strong Defense Creates Offense
Despite the overall offensive rankings, Worcester possesses some weapons which has caught teams off guard that haven't come prepared. Last weekend, the Railers scored three shorthanded goals in their two wins over the Monarchs. Matthew Gaudreau's game winner on Friday came with a teammate in the penalty box, while Ashton Rome and Kellen Jones tallied three minutes apart from each other on Sunday, with both goals coming shorthanded. Worcester has scored four shorthanded goals and surrendered three in its first 14 games of the campaign. Another location where scoring can be found for the Railers is on their blueline, where Patrick McNally not only leads the club with 13 points, but is also tops in goals, having lit the lamp six times. McNally is currently the only defenseman in the ECHL who is leading his team in scoring. Wheeling experienced something similar to that last season, when Kevin Schulze finished tied for the team lead in scoring, as he and Cody Wydo each amassed 60 points.
Game One of the Rhyming Rivalry
Wednesday night marks the first of nine head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Railers this season, as well as the first of four battles at WesBanco Arena. Worcester is one of two expansion teams in the ECHL this season, but Wheeling will not face the other one, which is the Jacksonville IceMen from the South Division. The Nailers have a pair of unique ties to Worcester. Former Nailer and Thunderbird Terry Virtue appeared in 455 games for the Worcester IceCats - the most games by any player in Worcester's professional hockey history. In 2006, the Sharks swam into DCU Center, and with them came Wheeling Assistant Coach Riley Armstrong, who wore teal and black for three seasons. The Railers are affiliated with the New York Islanders - a team that the Nailers haven't played an affiliate of since the Kalamazoo Wings during the 2010-11 campaign. Worcester returns to the Friendly City on Saturday, while Wheeling's first trip to Massachusetts takes place on January 20th.