(6-1-2-0, 14 PTS, T-1st North, T-4th East)
39 GF, 32 GA
PP: 34.9% (15-for-43), 1st
PK: 76.7% (33-for-43), 25th
24-F-Reid Gardiner (10 goals, 5 assists, 15 points in 9 games)
11-F-Cody Wydo (3 goals, 12 assists, 15 points in 9 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (3 goals, 10 assists, 13 points in 9 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (1 goal, 10 assists, 11 points in 9 games)
17-F-Kenny Ryan (7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points in 9 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points in 9 games)
31-G-Sean Maguire (4-1-0 record, 3.80 GAA, .907 Sv% in 6 games)
(6-2-2-0, 14 PTS, 1st Central, T-3rd West)
32 GF, 27 GA
PP: 11.4% (4-for-35), 23rd
PK: 92.5% (37-for-40), 1st
8-F-Christian Hilbrich (4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points in 10 games)
27-F-AJ Jenks (4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points in 10 games)
4-D-Kevin Tansey (3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points in 10 games)
20-F-Mike Borkowski (1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points in 8 games)
10-F-Shane Berschbach (1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points in 10 games)
5-F-Austen Brassard (6 assists, 6 points in 9 games)
30-G-Pat Nagle (6-0-2 record, 2.18 GAA, .923 Sv% in 9 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Nailers 1, Walleye 0
2016-17 Season Series at Huntington Center: Walleye 4, Nailers 1
All-Time Series: Walleye 36, Nailers 32
All-Time Series at Huntington Center: Walleye 22, Nailers 8
One Shot to be a Hero
The Wheeling Nailers continued their strong start to the 2017-18 season on Friday night, and although it took a few extra minutes, they were victorious in front of 3,408 fans at WesBanco Arena. Wheeling never trailed in the tilt, opening the scoring at the 5:54 mark of the second period, when Hunter Fejes sped down the left side of the ice, and roofed a shot into the top-left corner of the net. 1:45 later, Reid Gardiner added to the advantage, pounding in the rebound on a play created by Cody Wydo and Jeff Taylor. Visiting Toledo cut the margin to one, before Wydo tapped in a perfect pass from Riley Bourbonnais for a 3-1 score. The Walleye ended up forcing overtime, but in the extra session, Gardiner sent the crowd home happy, burying a shot on a 3-on-2 rush for the 4-3 Nailers triumph. Sean Maguire made 30 saves for his fourth win of the year.
Harmless Point to the West
The Toledo Walleye battled back to record one point in Friday's game, but the Nailers ended Toledo's four-game winning streak in the process. After falling behind 2-0, it took the Walleye until the 6:43 mark of the third period to find the back of the net, and they did so with a lucky bounce, as Patrick McCarron's shot deflected off of a Wheeling skate, before dribbling in over the goal line. With under three minutes remaining in regulation, Toledo forced overtime, scoring twice in a span of 1:06. The first tally came courtesy of Connor Crisp, and the tying goal was potted by Kevin Tansey - both shots were taken in the left circle. The Walleye dropped their second overtime decision of the season, and both of those results came against North Division opponents. Pat Nagle stopped 26 of 30 shots, bringing his season record to 6-0-2.
Gardiner Planting Game Winners
Reid Gardiner added another chapter to his remarkable start of the year on Friday night, culminating with the winning goal at the 3:12 mark of overtime. Gardiner collected his ninth and tenth goal of the season on Friday, and in doing so, extended his goal streak to seven games and his point streak to nine games. Colorado's Michael Joly currently leads the league in both of those categories (goals in eight straight, points in 12 streak), but Wheeling's superior rookie is hot on his tail. The timeliness of Reid's goals is also significant, as he has netted the deciding tally in four of the six wins for the Nailers thus far. The four game winning goals are the most in the ECHL. The Humboldt, Saskatchewan native leads all rookies in goals and points, while ranking second overall in goals and tied for fifth in points. Teammates Nick Sorkin and Cody Wydo are also clicking at a high rate, as both enter Saturday on six-game point streaks.
We'll Put in the Extra Time
In four of Wheeling's first nine games this season, regulation hasn't been enough to decide a winner, meaning fans have been treated to some 3-on-3 overtime. The Nailers earned their second overtime victory of the season on Friday, and first since the opening weekend of the campaign, when they edged the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 7-6. Wheeling's four overtime decisions are tied for third most in the ECHL, trailing the Tulsa Oilers and Utah Grizzlies, who have played a bonus period on five occasions. All four matches have been decided during the five-minute session, as the shootout has become a foreign territory for the Nailers. Wheeling's last shootout took place on October 28, 2016, meaning that 13 straight overtime contests have been decided without the shootout, and 18 of the last 19 trips past regulation have been won with an overtime goal.
Saturday night marks the second of six head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Walleye this season, as well as the first of three battles at Huntington Center. Wheeling got off on the right foot on Friday night, winning the season series opener against Toledo for the first time since 2012-13. Last year, the Nailers dropped the first game against the Walleye at home, but rebounded the following night on the road, silencing a sellout crowd of 8,000 with a 5-2 triumph. Unfortunately, that was Wheeling's lone win along the Maumee River in 2016-17, as Toledo closed out the year with four straight home victories against its long-time rival city. An electric atmosphere is expected in the Glass City on Saturday, as the Walleye have sold out both of their home games thus far this season. The Nailers were in T-Town for three sellouts last year, and five over the course of the last two seasons.