WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their schedule for the Central Division Final Round of the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Nailers will face the Toledo Walleye in a best-of-seven series, which begins on Friday night at Huntington Center.
Both teams went the distance in their opening round series, which each concluded on Tuesday night. The Nailers upset the Fort Wayne Komets by winning game seven 3-2 in overtime on Matthew Quercia's deciding goal 6:30 into the extra session. That was Wheeling's third game seven overtime win all-time, which is the most in ECHL history. The series win was the 17th in team history, and the first since the club's last postseason appearance in 2016. The Nailers finished the 2021-22 regular season with a 37-31-4-0 record, which earned them 78 points. The Walleye earned the Brabham Cup for the best regular season record in the ECHL this year, as they went 49-19-2-2, which was good for 102 points. Toledo defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones 4-2 in game seven, as former Nailer Brandon Hawkins scored a hat trick. That was the ninth series win for the Walleye since 2014-15.
The Nailers and Walleye met on seven occasions during the regular season, and Wheeling was the only Central Division team to win its season series against Toledo, as it skated away with four victories. The set was incredibly tight, as five of the seven matches were decided by one goal, including a 3-2 Nailers win in the finale on April 10th. Wheeling posted a 2-1-1 road record against the Walleye and went 2-1-0 at WesBanco Arena. Toledo's TJ Hensick was the leading scorer in the season series, as he produced two goals, seven assists, and nine points. Matt Berry and Brett Boeing, also of the Walleye, were the leading goal scorers, as each player turned on the red light four times. The Nailers were led by Cam Hausinger and Tim Doherty, who each tallied seven points. Hausinger was also Wheeling's top goal scorer against Toledo, as he found the back of the net three times. Nine different goaltenders saw action, and six of the nine recorded a victory, but only three of the nine are on the active rosters. Wheeling's Louis-Philip Guindon and Toledo's Max Milosek both went 1-1-0, while Billy Christopoulos of the Walleye lost his lone start.
There is lots of playoff history between Wheeling and Toledo, as this will be the sixth time that the two cities clash in the postseason. The rivalry began as soon as professional hockey arrived in Wheeling, as the Thunderbirds and Storm played in the 1993 and 1994 playoffs. Both of those series were won by Toledo, as the Storm captured back-to-back Riley Cup Championships. Led by current Washington Capitals Head Coach Peter Laviolette, the Nailers got on the board in 1998, when they eliminated the Storm 3-1 in the second round. Toledo then earned a couple of winner-take-all victories, as the Storm rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to win a best-of-five series in 2006, then Kyle Bonis' shorthanded goal in overtime of game seven lifted the Walleye into the second round in 2015. Counting all four team names, as well as regular season and playoffs, there have been 254 games played between Wheeling and Toledo all-time.
The 2022 Central Division Final Series between the Wheeling Nailers and Toledo Walleye will begin at Huntington Center on Friday and Saturday, before heading to WesBanco Arena on May 10th, 12th, and 14th (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 FinalWheeling Nailers vs. Toledo WalleyeGame 1 - Fri. May 6 at Toledo, 7:35Game 2 - Sat. May 7 at Toledo, 7:35Game 3 - Tue. May 10 AT WHEELING, 7:10Game 4 - Thu. May 12 AT WHEELING, 7:10Game 5 - Sat. May 14 AT WHEELING, 7:10 (if necessary)Game 6 - Mon. May 16 at Toledo, 7:35Game 7 - Tue. May 17 at Toledo, 7:35