(25-17-4-0, 54 PTS, T-2nd North, T-4th East)
165 GF, 144 GA
PP: 21.2% (40-for-189), 1st
PK: 81.1% (150-for-185), 21st
24-F-Reid Gardiner (26 goals, 17 assists, 43 points in 41 games)
11-F-Cody Wydo (18 goals, 25 assists, 43 points in 35 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (13 goals, 27 assists, 40 points in 41 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (15 goals, 22 assists, 37 points in 39 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (6 goals, 31 assists, 37 points in 44 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (4 goals, 17 assists, 21 points in 33 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (9-7-1 record, 2.70 GAA, .913 Sv% in 18 games)
(19-19-2-1, 41 PTS, 6th Central, 12th West)
128 GF, 135 GA
PP: 20.4% (32-for-157), 3rd
PK: 83.8% (145-for-173), 11th
43-F-Cam Reid (9 goals, 20 assists, 29 points in 39 games)
21-F-Michael Neal (13 goals, 15 assists, 28 points in 35 games)
22-F-Ryan Rupert (9 goals, 19 assists, 28 points in 36 games)
7-F-Darian Dziurzynski (10 goals, 11 assists, 21 points in 34 games)
19-F-Johnny McInnis (11 goals, 9 assists, 20 points in 33 games)
4-D-Nolan Descoteaux (1 goal, 14 assists, 15 points in 39 games)
1-G-Adam Carlson (1-1-1 record, 2.80 GAA, .893 Sv% in 6 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Nailers 2, Fuel 2
Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 1, Fuel 1
All-Time Series: Fuel 7, Nailers 6
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Fuel 3, Nailers 2
All Week to Enjoy a Win
The Wheeling Nailers finished a stretch of seven games in ten days on Sunday, and they had a good taste in their mouths all week, thanks to a 4-2 victory over the Manchester Monarchs. Reid Gardiner put the home team on the scoreboard first, flying down the right side of the ice, before ripping a shot into the left side of the net. A little more than three minutes later, Cody Wydo dented the twine with a one-timer in the slot. The Monarchs closed to within one on a couple of occasions, but Wheeling maintained its advantage, as Cam Brown tallied 51 seconds into the third period, and Gardiner added insurance with 4:22 left, as his 26th goal of the season helped to lock up his sixth multi-point game of the year. Adam Morrison made 27 saves to earn his ninth win in his last 12 starts.
Back to Even for Indy
The Indy Fuel aren't in the greatest of positions, as they sit nine points back of the final playoff spot in the Central Division. However, at 19-19-3, Indy has a .500 record for the first time since October 27th, when it beat Florida to go to 2-2-1. The Fuel have won six of their last eight contests, including a two-game sweep of the Kalamazoo Wings at Wings Event Center last weekend. In Saturday's game, goaltender Greg Dodds stole the show, as he stopped 53 of the 56 shots he faced in his first start with the Fuel. Five different players scored for Indy, who jumped out to a 4-1 lead, before holding on for the 5-3 triumph. In Sunday's tilt, the Fuel powered out to a 4-0 advantage, thanks to tallies by Ryan Rupert, Tommy Olczyk, Robin Press, and Josh Shalla. Kalamazoo tightened the gap to two, before Rupert's second of the day iced a 5-2 final in favor of the visitors.
Jammin' in January
In a way, the Nailers may be sad to flip the calendar over to February, following a fantastic month of January. Wheeling posted a 9-3-2 record in 14 January matches, including a 7-1-1 mark at WesBanco Arena. The nine-win month was the team's first since November of 2013, when that group went 10-3-2. All players deserve credit for the outstanding month, but four players in particular shined with individual accolades, including two that were recognized with league honors. Nick Sorkin became the first Wheeling player since January of 2011 to capture the ECHL Plus Performer of the Month Award, as he posted a +17 rating. Reid Gardiner was named ECHL Rookie of the Month for the second time this season - the first player to achieve that feat since 2014-15. Gardiner and Cam Brown both begin February with eight-game point streaks, while Adam Morrison went 7-0-1 in eight January starts.
Shalla Sparks the Surge
Riding a three-game winning streak to close out 2017, the Fuel began the new calendar year with a significant transaction, signing Josh Shalla. The 26-year old played for Wheeling and Indy during the 2016-17 campaign, finishing tied for tenth in the ECHL with 32 goals. After playing in 26 games for the EIHL's Nottingham Panthers to start the year, Shalla decided it was time for a return to North America, and he has picked up right where he left off. In 11 games with the Fuel this season, Josh has racked up nine goals, four assists, and 13 points, as well as a +8 rating. Indy is 7-4-0 with him in the lineup, and the team is 10-4-0 in its last 14 tilts, dating back to December 28th. One other reason for that team success was the goaltending of Etienne Marcoux, who played in 14 of 15 games, including 13 straight. Marcoux has since been loaned to the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds, leaving the crease in the hands of Adam Carlson and Greg Dodds.
The Burning Rubber Match
Friday night marks the fifth and final head-to-head meeting between the Nailers and Fuel this season, as well as the third battle at WesBanco Arena. All the marbles will be on the table for this tilt, as both teams have collected two wins thus far, splitting two games in each building. Wheeling opened the set with a 5-1 victory at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, but each of the next three contests have resulted in 3-2 final scores. The Nailers are looking to get the upper hand on Indy in a yearly series for the first time since the Fuel joined the ECHL in 2014-15, having gone 0-1-2 in the previous three season sets. Cody Wydo is the leading scorer in the first four games, having amassed one goal, five assists, and six points. Michael Neal and Ryan Rupert have three points each to pace Indy. The Fuel's starting goaltender will be the seventh different netminder to appear in the series between the two sides.