WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their schedule for the Central Division Semifinal Round of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Nailers will face the Fort Wayne Komets in a best-of-seven series, which begins on Friday night at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
During the 2021-22 regular season, the Nailers posted a 37-31-4-0 record and earned 78 points, as they qualified for the playoffs for the first time in six years, and the 15th time in their history. Wheeling experienced the largest improvement in the ECHL this season, as it turned a .375 points percentage in 2020-21 into a .542 points percentage in 2021-22. The Nailers solidified their position in the postseason by going 5-3-1 in April, and they officially clinched their spot with a 3-2 victory at Kalamazoo on April 13th. The opposition for round one is the second place Fort Wayne Komets, who turned in a record of 40-25-6-1, which was good for 87 points. This is the eighth ECHL playoff appearance for the Komets, who captured the Kelly Cup in 2021.
The Nailers and Komets have gotten to know each other very well over the course of the last two seasons, as they have gone head-to-head on 30 occasions since February 12, 2021. The Komets came out on top in this year's season series, as they won seven of the ten clashes. Home ice played a significant factor in the set, as Fort Wayne was victorious in all five tilts at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, while Wheeling was triumphant in three of five matches at WesBanco Arena. Kellen Jones of the Komets was the top producer in the season series, as he collected one goal, nine assists, and ten points in nine games. Six of his ten points came in one game - a 7-3 Fort Wayne win on March 27th. On the Nailers side, Josh Maniscalco led the way with four goals, four assists, and eight points. Josh netted the overtime winner as part of a two-goal performance on November 14th, then set up another OT goal on February 12th, after scoring in regulation. Between the pipes, Wheeling's Louis-Philip Guindon (2-2-0) and Fort Wayne's Samuel Harvey (6-0-0) were responsible for eight of the ten wins in the set.
This is the first time that the two historic teams will meet in postseason play, as both organizations celebrate milestone years. This is the 30th season of hockey in Wheeling, as the Thunderbirds and Nailers have spent their entire legacy in the ECHL. Fort Wayne is celebrating its 70th season of the Komets, while playing its tenth season in the ECHL. Wheeling and Fort Wayne have only been in the same division for four of the ten seasons.
Both teams have players who have worn the opposite jersey during their careers. Wheeling's Louis-Philip Guindon played in 11 games for the Komets in 2020-21, while Fort Wayne's Zach Tolkinen played in 54 games for the Nailers in 2017-18, and Fort Wayne's Blake Siebenaler played in 57 games for the Nailers from 2018-20.
The 2022 Central Division Semifinal Series between the Wheeling Nailers and Fort Wayne Komets will begin at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Friday and Saturday, before heading to WesBanco Arena on April 27th, 29th, and 30th (if necessary). All home games will begin at 7:10. The Nailers want you to join #NailersArmy and get your playoff tickets now by visiting wheelingnailers.com or by calling (304) 234-GOAL.
Central Division SemifinalWheeling Nailers vs. Fort Wayne KometsGame 1 - Fri. Apr. 22 at Fort Wayne, 8:00Game 2 - Sat. Apr. 23 at Fort Wayne, 7:30Game 3 - Wed. Apr. 27 AT WHEELING, 7:10Game 4 - Fri. Apr. 29 AT WHEELING, 7:10Game 5 - Sat. Apr. 30 AT WHEELING, 7:10 (if necessary)Game 6 - Mon. May 2 at Fort Wayne, 7:30Game 7 - Tue. May 3 at Fort Wayne, 7:30