(27-20-4-0, 58 PTS, 3rd North, 5th East)
185 GF, 170 GA
PP: 21.0% (46-for-219), 2nd
PK: 80.5% (165-for-205), 21st
11-F-Cody Wydo (21 goals, 28 assists, 49 points in 40 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (13 goals, 31 assists, 44 points in 46 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (6 goals, 36 assists, 42 points in 49 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (18 goals, 23 assists, 41 points in 44 games)
14-F-Riley Bourbonnais (16 goals, 13 assists, 29 points in 46 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (6 goals, 20 assists, 26 points in 38 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (11-9-1 record, 3.14 GAA, .904 Sv% in 22 games)
ORLANDO SOLAR BEARS
(21-22-5-1, 48 PTS, 4th South, T-8th East)
148 GF, 169 GA
PP: 16.7% (39-for-234), 17th
PK: 82.6% (204-for-247), 14th
88-F-Joshua Winquist (17 goals, 27 assists, 44 points in 41 games)
23-F-Hunter Fejes (22 goals, 19 assists, 41 points in 48 games)
20-F-Max Novak (14 goals, 24 assists, 38 points in 46 games)
14-F-J.J. Piccinich (12 goals, 16 assists, 28 points in 46 games)
22-F-Martins Dzierkals (10 goals, 13 assists, 23 points in 29 games)
3-D-Mike Monfredo (3 goals, 13 assists, 16 points in 49 games)
30-G-Cal Heeter (12-11-4 record, 2.90 GAA, .906 Sv% in 30 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Nailers 1, Solar Bears 1
Season Series at Amway Center: Nailers 1, Solar Bears 1
All-Time Series: Solar Bears 9, Nailers 1
All-Time Series at Amway Center: Solar Bears 4, Nailers 1
Offense was Ready to Rise and Shine
The Wheeling Nailers were awake and ready to roll, when the puck dropped at 9:30 on Sunday morning. Garrett Meurs put the road team on the board first at the six-minute mark of the opening stanza, when he whirled in a shot from the bottom of the right circle. 23 seconds later, Freddie Tiffels centered a pass to Cody Wydo, who tapped in a one-timer at the top of the crease. The Nailers were far from done, as Riley Bourbonnais' right circle wrist shot on the power play chased Orlando starting goaltender Mackenzie Skapski at the 12:15 mark. Meurs and Bourbonnais both collected their second goals of the day during the middle frame, as Wheeling built a 5-1 advantage. The Solar Bears put together a late run, but with 8:13 left, Dylan Zink's tally proved to be the difference, as the Nailers were victorious, 6-5. Adam Morrison made 38 saves for his 11th win of the year.
Slugging it out
The Orlando Solar Bears have scored at least five goals in three of their last four games, but on Sunday morning, netminders Mackenzie Skapski and Cal Heeter both surrendered three goals, leading to their demise. The Nailers looked like they were going to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, until Orlando's Joe Perry beat the buzzer from the left side of the slot. The Solar Bears found themselves in a four-goal deficit midway through the contest, and attempted to claw back, as Tayler Thompson and Chris Crane made the score 5-3 after 40 minutes. Orlando answered Wheeling goals within a minute twice on Sunday, with Thompson's being the first (done in 18 seconds), and Perry clicking for his second of the day 44 seconds after Zink's eventual game winner. Sam Jardine closed the gap to one with 42 seconds left, but the Solar Bears failed to convert on a power play with 26 seconds to go, as the Nailers closed out their 6-5 win.
Finishing off a Close One
This season, the Nailers have done a fantastic job of closing out games, typically tacking on late goals to add insurance to their victories. On Sunday morning, Wheeling got tested, as it had a one-goal lead with 42 seconds left in regulation. The team's fourth successful penalty kill of the day took care of business, and the Nailers got to celebrate their 11th road win of the season. Oddly enough, Sunday was only the fourth one-goal win in regulation for Wheeling, and the first since a 3-2 triumph over Indy on December 12th at WesBanco Arena. The Nailers have won by two goals on nine occasions. Wheeling has had tremendous success when leading at intermissions, going 20-4-0 when leading after the first period, and 19-2-1 when leading after the second period. Sunday was also the 24th win of the year when the Nailers have led by multiple goals at any point.
Powerful Plays on the Road
It has been highlighted many times how strong the Wheeling power play has been in 2017-18, as the team currently ranks second in the ECHL with a 21.0% success rate. However, the more remarkable statistic comes from the club's success on the man advantage when playing away from the Friendly City. The Nailers have scored three power play goals in their first two games in Orlando, giving them 27 goals on 110 attempts in enemy territory. That is good for a 24.5% clip. Riley Bourbonnais factored into both of the power play strikes on Sunday, and is one of 17 different Wheeling players to score a goal on the man advantage this season. Dylan Zink's game winning goal was his third power play marker of the campaign, tying him with Kevin Schulze for the team's lead among defensemen.
The Hardest and Most Rewarding Came Last
Monday night marks the third and final head-to-head meeting between the Nailers and Solar Bears this season, with all three battles taking place at Amway Center. On Sunday afternoon, Wheeling earned its first ever win against Orlando, ending a nine-game winning streak by the Solar Bears, dating back to 2012, when they joined the ECHL. The victory also turns Monday's match into a game for all of the marbles, as the Nailers will finish their fourth season series of the year, looking for their fourth winning record against an opposing club. Sunday's triumph accomplished one other feat, as the 2017-18 Wheeling squad collected at least one win against all 13 teams on its regular season schedule. 2011-12 was the last time the team was able to do that. The Nailers can check one more item off of their historical list later this month, as they are still in search of their first ever win at SNHU Arena in Manchester.