Last WeekThursday, January 3rd: Toledo Walleye 6 @ WHEELING NAILERS 2After closing out the 2018 calendar year with a shutout victory over the Reading Royals, 2019 didn't start out the way the Wheeling Nailers had hoped, as they saw their five-game home winning streak end against the Toledo Walleye. Greg Wolfe scored the lone goal in the first period for Toledo, but Renars Krastenbergs answered, drawing the Nailers even in the opening minutes of the middle frame. Unfortunately, the remainder of the night went to the Walleye, who potted five of the last six goals for the 6-2 decision. Troy Josephs tallied the second marker of the night for Wheeling on a power play in the third period.
Friday, January 4th: WHEELING NAILERS 2 @ Indy Fuel 3The Nailers made their final trip of the regular season to Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Friday night, but came away empty-handed in the points department. Kevin Dufour and Alex Brooks built a 2-0 lead in the first period for the host Indy Fuel, before Renars Krastenbergs trimmed the deficit to one during the opening minutes of the middle stanza. The deciding strike came with 8:43 left in the third period, when Brett Welychka converted on a man advantage for Indy. Mark Petaccio lit the lamp in the closing seconds, as the Nailers fell short, 3-2.
Saturday, January 5th: WHEELING NAILERS 8 @ Toledo Walleye 28,117 fans packed Toledo's Huntington Center on Saturday night, and the Nailers put on an offensive show that left the home crowd speechless. Alex Rauter started the night with back-to-back goals, and he was followed 62 seconds later by Johnny Austin, as Wheeling took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. The Nailers upped their lead with two more tallies in the second period, as Troy Josephs and Yushiroh Hirano helped chase Walleye starting goaltender Kaden Fulcher from the crease. Renars Krastenbergs, Cedric Lacroix, and Hirano capped of the eight-goal explosion in the third period, with Lacroix completing a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (goal, assist, fight). John Muse made 29 saves in the triumph.
This WeekFriday, January 11th: Utah Grizzlies @ WHEELING NAILERS, 7:05 p.m.The Nailers will start this week in search of back-to-back wins over first place teams, as the Utah Grizzlies bring their 20-8-4 record into WesBanco Arena on Friday night. Utah currently leads the Idaho Steelheads by one point and the Tulsa Oilers by two points for the top spot in the ECHL's Mountain Division. Last week, the Grizzlies swept a three-game home series against the Wichita Thunder, winning 5-3, 3-1, and 4-3. This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Wheeling and Utah, with all five taking place at WesBanco Arena. The Nailers have gone 4-0-0 against the Grizzlies, winning two games each in December of 2014 and 2016.
Saturday, January 12th: Indy Fuel @ WHEELING NAILERS, 7:05 p.m.Sunday, January 13th: Indy Fuel @ WHEELING NAILERS, 3:05 p.m.After a couple of games in Indianapolis, the Nailers and Fuel return to the venue that is hosting the majority of their season series - WesBanco Arena. This weekend will be the first and second of six straight games in Wheeling for the two Central Division clubs, who begin the week tied for fourth place with 36 points. Both squads posted 1-2-0 records last week, as Indy lost both of its matches against the Fort Wayne Komets, who grabbed third place in the group. The home teams have won four of the first five games in the season set between the Nailers and Fuel, with Wheeling scoring 11 goals in its last two home contests.
Notes- The Nailers scored their tenth shorthanded goal of the season on Saturday, becoming the third team in the ECHL this season to reach double digits in that category.- The eight-goal outburst on Saturday was Wheeling's highest goal total in a game at Toledo since December 28, 1993, when the Thunderbirds beat the Storm, 9-4.- Cedric Lacroix became the first Nailer this season to record a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.- Johnny Austin scored his first professional goal on Saturday, which was also the game winner.- Zac Lynch dished out four assists against the Walleye, becoming the second Wheeling player this season with four assists in one game.
Central Division Standings1. Cincinnati Cyclones 23-7-2-2, 50 pts.2. Toledo Walleye 23-8-3-0, 49 pts.3. Fort Wayne Komets 19-14-0-1, 39 pts.4. WHEELING NAILERS 17-15-2-0, 36 pts.5. Indy Fuel 18-16-0-0, 36 pts.6. Kalamazoo Wings 15-18-0-1, 31 pts.
Team LeadersGoals: Nick Saracino- 17Assists: Cam Brown- 26Points: Nick Saracino- 37Penalty Minutes: Cedric Lacroix- 108Plus/Minus: Nick Saracino- +17Wins: Matt O'Connor- 7Goals Against Average: John Muse- 2.83Save Percentage: Matt O'Connor- .903Shutouts: John Muse & Matt O'Connor- 1
Next Big Promotional NightSaturday, January 12th - Nickelodeon Night Featuring SpongeBob & Patrick, Scout Night
Next Five Home GamesFriday, January 11th vs. Utah Grizzlies, 7:05 p.m.Saturday, January 12th vs. Indy Fuel, 7:05 p.m.Sunday, January 13th vs. Indy Fuel, 3:05 p.m.Friday, January 25th vs. Brampton Beast, 7:05 p.m.Saturday, January 26th vs. Reading Royals, 7:05 p.m.