(26-18-4-0, 56 PTS, T-2nd North, T-4th East)
175 GF, 154 GA
PP: 21.0% (42-for-200), 1st
PK: 81.7% (156-for-191), 20th
11-F-Cody Wydo (18 goals, 27 assists, 45 points in 37 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (13 goals, 28 assists, 41 points in 43 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (6 goals, 33 assists, 39 points in 46 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (15 goals, 23 assists, 38 points in 41 games)
14-F-Riley Bourbonnais (14 goals, 12 assists, 26 points in 43 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (6 goals, 18 assists, 24 points in 35 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (10-8-1 record, 2.95 GAA, .906 Sv% in 20 games)
(29-12-2-2, 62 PTS, 1st Central, 2nd West)
145 GF, 111 GA
PP: 16.0% (25-for-156), 21st
PK: 86.9% (126-for-145), 3rd
19-F-Erik Bradford (10 goals, 24 assists, 34 points in 40 games)
8-F-Christian Hilbrich (16 goals, 15 assists, 31 points in 45 games)
20-F-Mike Borkowski (13 goals, 17 assists, 30 points in 35 games)
7-F-Tyler Barnes (10 goals, 19 assists, 29 points in 40 games)
28-F-Kyle Bonis (14 goals, 13 assists, 27 points in 39 games)
14-D-Ryan Obuchowski (3 goals, 17 assists, 20 points in 45 games)
30-G-Matej Machovsky (9-7-1 record, 2.01 GAA, .929 Sv% in 17 games)
Head to Head
Season Series: Nailers 2, Walleye 2
Season Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 1, Walleye 1
All-Time Series: Walleye 38, Nailers 33
All-Time Series at WesBanco Arena: Nailers 24, Walleye 15
Mirror Images for Results
The Wheeling Nailers were involved in a pair of games over the weekend, which resulted in the same final score. However, the two contests saw different winners, as the Nailers pumped the Indy Fuel, 7-3 on Friday, before the Fort Wayne Komets got the upper hand on Saturday. The first period of Saturday's match was played evenly, as both teams came out firing, turning on the red light twice each. Wheeling got its first goal of the night from Danny Fick, who smacked in the rebound of Chris Francis' shot for his first marker of the year. With 1:18 remaining, Freddie Tiffels buried a perfect pass from Dylan Zink for the equalizer. Gabriel Desjardins stood out with a huge game for Fort Wayne, as he connected for three of the next four tallies, opening up a 5-3 advantage for the visitors, who added two more insurance goals at the end. Kevin Schulze scored the third goal for the Nailers, as he and Tiffels found the net in both tilts against the teams from the Hoosier State.
Maintaining the Central Lead
The Toledo Walleye had to pick up a win on Saturday night to keep sole possession of first place in the Central Division, and they were able to achieve that feat successfully, doubling up the Indy Fuel, 4-2 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. It took Toledo just 60 seconds to get on the scoreboard, as Patrick McCarron opened the scoring. Later in the frame, former Nailer Christian Hilbrich put the Walleye ahead by a pair, thanks to his team-leading 16th goal of the season. Another former Wheeling player cut the margin to one, as Josh Shalla tallied in the final minute of the second period. However, the Fuel couldn't get any closer, as Mike Embach lit the lamp in his Toledo debut, and Kyle Bonis iced the triumph with an empty netter. Pat Nagle was stellar in goal for the Walleye, making 44 saves to earn the victory.
Late Season Additions
Both teams added new players to their rosters before Saturday's game, and although they both played their first ECHL games of 2017-18, the two individuals are well-known around the league. Wheeling signed forward Tyler Murovich, who wears a Nailers uniform for the third time in his career. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Murovich, who has also skated with the Reading Royals, Orlando Solar Bears, and Gwinnett/Atlanta Gladiators, is coming off of a career-high 22-goal season with the Gladiators. Tyler has appeared in 459 professional games - the most among current Wheeling players. Toledo's acquisition was Mike Embach, who began the year by accumulating 19 points in 35 games with the EIHL's Braehead Clan. Embach has spent the last four seasons with the Fort Wayne Komets, with his best year coming in 2014-15, when he racked up 70 points. The Orland Park, Illinois native has appeared in 382 professional contests.
Don't Overlook the Defense
Last season, the Walleye put together a dangerous team, capturing their second Brabham Cup in the last three seasons, while leading the ECHL with 302 goals scored. With numbers like that, it can be easy to overlook the other side of the puck, as Toledo also finished first in goals against, giving up a mere 191 to the opposition. This season, the Walleye rank 12th in the league with 145 goals scored, but their defense is shining once again, as their 111 goals against are second in the ECHL. Part of that stellar defense comes from the goal crease, where Pat Nagle and Matej Machovsky have alternated starts for the last 31 games, dating back to November 18th. Both netminders are leading the league in a statistical category, as Nagle's 20 wins are the most in the ECHL, while Machovsky's 2.01 goals against average is the best among the 27 teams.
Tied, Down to the Last Two
Tuesday night marks the fifth of six head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Walleye this season, as well as the third and final battle at WesBanco Arena. The season series is currently deadlocked, 2-2, with both sides earning one victory in each venue. The most recent match went Toledo's way, 5-4 on December 30th, when the Walleye broke a 3-3 tie with two goals in the final minute of the second period. Wheeling picked up a 4-2 win at Huntington Center on December 9th, as well as a 4-3 overtime decision at home on November 10th. Mike Borkowski netted a hat trick in Toledo's other win on November 11th, and is the leading scorer in the set with five goals and six points. The top active scorers for the Nailers are Cody Wydo and Kevin Schulze, who both have four points. Wheeling must win Tuesday to have a chance to win the season series against the Walleye for the first time since 2013-14, as one game remains in Toledo on March 30th.