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Nailers at Royals Game Day Snap Shot

Saturday, December 16th
Nailers at Royals Game Day Snap Shot

WHEELING NAILERS(14-10-2-0, 30 PTS, T-2nd North, T-4th East)93 GF, 85 GAPP: 21.9% (25-for-114), 1stPK: 79.1% (87-for-110), 24th

11-F-Cody Wydo (12 goals, 17 assists, 29 points in 25 games)23-F-Garrett Meurs (12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points in 23 games)24-F-Reid Gardiner (11 goals, 13 assists, 24 points in 26 games)11-F-Cam Brown (4 goals, 19 assists, 23 points in 26 games)18-F-Hunter Fejes (13 goals, 7 assists, 20 points in 26 games)26-D-Kevin Schulze (1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points in 13 games)1-G-Will King (2-1-1 record, 3.41 GAA, .906 Sv% in 4 games)

READING ROYALS(14-8-2-0, 30 PTS, T-2nd North, T-4th East)78 GF, 65 GAPP: 13.7% (13-for-95), 22ndPK: 86.9% (73-for-84), 6th

90-F-Matt Willows (9 goals, 14 assists, 23 points in 24 games)27-F-Mark Naclerio (10 goals, 10 assists, 20 points in 24 games)9-F-Ryan Penny (7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points in 24 games)3-F-Chris McCarthy (7 goals, 8 assists, 15 points in 24 games)8-D-Nolan Zajac (6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points in 24 games)14-F-Adam Schmidt (3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points in 22 games)31-G-Mark Dekanich (8-5-1 record, 2.68 GAA, .915 Sv% in 14 games)

Head to HeadSeason Series: Royals 4, Nailers 2Season Series at Santander Arena: Royals 3, Nailers 1All-Time Series: Royals 93, Nailers 74All-Time Series at Santander Arena: Royals 52, Nailers 33

The Chances Were ThereThe Wheeling Nailers recorded at least 50 shots on goal in a game for the third time this season on Friday night. However, in two of those contests, they have run into goaltenders on hot nights, as they have just one win to show for in those three tilts, thanks to a 48-save performance by Indy's Matt Tomkins on December 8th, and Mark Dekanich's 50-save shutout for Reading on Friday. The shutout was the first of the year in a game involving the Nailers, who peppered the 31-year old netminder with 12 shots in the first period, 21 in the middle frame, and 17 in the final stanza. The Royals earned their second shutout win of the season, after being blanked by the Manchester Monarchs, 5-0 in their previous outing last Saturday. Despite being more than one-third of the way into the season, no ECHL goaltenders have multiple shutouts in 2017-18.

Damage Done EarlyThe Reading Royals have earned back-to-back home wins against the Nailers, winning 2-1 on December 6th and 4-0 on Friday. Five of Reading's six goals have been scored during the first period, including three in Friday's tilt, as the home squad attempted to put the game away early. The first strike came off of the rush at the 11:59 mark, when Scott Tanski took a drop pass from Michael Huntebrinker, and buried a shot from the left face-off dot. With 1:33 remaining, Matt Willows curled to the top of the left circle, and rang a shot in off of the post for a 2-0 advantage. Eight seconds later, the Royals kept the pedal to the metal, and Huntebrinker tapped in the rebound of Ryan Penny's initial attempt. Reading recorded half of its shots on goal (19 of 38) during the opening stanza, and got one goal the rest of the way, as Willows notched his second, capping off a 2-on-1 rush with Chris McCarthy. Former Royal Adam Morrison made 34 saves for Wheeling.

Goaltenders on the MarkMark Dekanich's performance on Friday night brought back a not so fun memory of another goaltender named Mark, who had the game of his life while facing the Nailers in Reading. The clash took place on March 28, 2012, and the netminder who stole the show was Mark Owuya. Wheeling outshot the Royals 55-21, racking up 43 of those 55 attempts in the final two frames. However, Owuya stopped each and every one of them, and Denny Urban's power play goal in the second period gave Reading all of the offense it needed in what turned out to be a 3-0 decision. Those two totals fall short of the Nailers record for most saves in a game, as Joel Laing turned away 63 of 65 shots in a 4-2 win at Peoria on February 16, 2002. The most saves by a Wheeling goaltender in a shutout in the last decade has been Mike Condon's 45-save masterpiece in the 2013-14 regular season finale at Cincinnati.

Second Place is on the LineThe North Division continues to be the closest division in the ECHL, as the six teams are separated by 12 points. Manchester currently occupies the top spot in the group, having accumulated 34 points, while tying for the most games played in the entire league. One team will skate out of Saturday's game with sole possession of second place, as the Nailers and Royals are currently deadlocked with 30 points each. Adirondack is right behind those two with 28 points, while Brampton and Worcester are on the outside looking in, with 23 and 22 points respectively. However, the Beast and Railers both have games in hand on each of the top four clubs. Wheeling has compiled a 5-5-1 record against the North Division, tying with Brampton for the fewest divisional games played. Reading leads the way with 12 of its 14 wins against the North Division, having gone 12-6-1 in 19 matches. Florida has the most divisional wins in the league (16), while Atlanta and Idaho have played the most divisional games in the ECHL (23).

Not Going to Miss ThemSaturday night marks the seventh of 11 head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Royals, as well as the fifth of six battles at Santander Arena. Wheeling and Reading are finally concluding a stretch in which they will have played against each other six times in 21 days. If the Nailers can come away victorious, the result of the three-week set will be a split, as the Royals enter with a 3-2 advantage during that time, and a 4-2 lead in the season series overall. Both sides have now earned one win by four goals, while the other four contests have all been decided by one goal. Thanks to his two goals on Friday, Matt Willows joined Hunter Fejes and Mark Naclerio, as the three players who lead the set with seven points each. Fejes' five goals are the most. Mark Dekanich is expected to make his fourth start on Saturday, which would be the most for any goalie on the two teams.

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