(26-19-4-0, 56 PTS, T-3rd North, T-5th East)
177 GF, 160 GA
PP: 20.8% (43-for-207), 1st
PK: 80.7% (159-for-197), 21st
11-F-Cody Wydo (19 goals, 27 assists, 46 points in 38 games)
21-F-Cam Brown (13 goals, 29 assists, 42 points in 44 games)
23-F-Garrett Meurs (16 goals, 23 assists, 39 points in 42 games)
8-F-Nick Sorkin (6 goals, 33 assists, 39 points in 47 games)
14-F-Riley Bourbonnais (14 goals, 12 assists, 26 points in 44 games)
26-D-Kevin Schulze (6 goals, 19 assists, 25 points in 36 games)
29-G-Adam Morrison (10-9-1 record, 3.04 GAA, .905 Sv% in 21 games)
ORLANDO SOLAR BEARS
(20-21-5-1, 46 PTS, 4th South, 9th East)
138 GF, 161 GA
PP: 16.4% (37-for-226), 18th
PK: 83.0% (195-for-235), 13th
88-F-Joshua Winquist (17 goals, 26 assists, 43 points in 39 games)
23-F-Hunter Fejes (22 goals, 16 assists, 38 points in 46 games)
20-F-Max Novak (13 goals, 22 assists, 35 points in 44 games)
14-F-J.J. Piccinich (10 goals, 16 assists, 26 points in 44 games)
22-F-Martins Dzierkals (10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points in 27 games)
3-D-Mike Monfredo (2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points in 47 games)
30-G-Cal Heeter (11-10-4 record, 2.90 GAA, .907 Sv% in 28 games)
Head to Head
2016-17 Season Series: Solar Bears 1, Nailers 0
2016-17 Season Series at Amway Center: Did Not Play
All-Time Series: Solar Bears 8, Nailers 0
All-Time Series at Amway Center: Solar Bears 3, Nailers 0
Tough Times with Toledo
The Wheeling Nailers closed out their seven-game homestand on Tuesday night, facing off against the Central Division leading Toledo Walleye. Former Nailer Christian Hilbrich opened the scoring with a power play goal from the right circle for Toledo, but later in the first frame, Wheeling had an answer with a power play strike of its own, as Cody Wydo rang a shot in on the left side of the cage. The Nailers went ahead at the 7:41 mark of the second period, when Garrett Meurs finished off a 2-on-1 break with Cam Brown. Dylan Sadowy's redirect on a man advantage evened the score for the Walleye, who regained the lead 46 seconds after that, thanks to Connor Crisp's rebound goal. Mike Embach added a key insurance goal to start the final stanza, before Erik Bradford and Crisp put the finishing touches on a 6-2 Toledo triumph. Matej Machovsky got the win with 32 saves, while Adam Morrison and Will King both saw action in the Wheeling crease.
Ever so Much Trouble
The Orlando Solar Bears have had their struggles through the years when it has come to facing their in-state rivals, the Florida Everblades. Florida has ousted Orlando from the Kelly Cup Playoffs twice, and on Wednesday night, the Everblades improved to 7-2-0 against the Solar Bears. After a scoreless first period, J.J. Piccinich gave Orlando a 1-0 lead at the 6:18 mark of the middle frame. However, the third period belonged to Florida, who lit the lamp three times on ten shots, while limiting the Solar Bears to just six attempts. Joe Cox tallied the tying goal at 3:10, Matt Berry followed with the go-ahead strike, which turned out to be the game winner at 10:51, and Quentin Shore tacked on the empty netter in the dying seconds. Martin Ouellette made 29 saves for the victory, running his record to 5-0-0 against Orlando, while Mackenzie Skapski stopped 23 shots in the defeat.
Time to Become Road Warriors
After playing seven straight games in the friendly confines of WesBanco Arena, the Nailers will spend a significant chunk of time on the road, as they look to solidify their position in the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Wheeling posted a 3-3-1 mark on the recent homestand, with the wins coming against Kalamazoo, Manchester, and Indy. The Nailers are 16-9-2 on home ice, with the 16 home wins ranking tied for first in the Eastern Conference. Wheeling will play nine of its next 11 contests away from the Ohio Valley, entering the weekend with a 10-10-2 mark in opposition buildings. The Nailers have won back-to-back road tilts for the second time this season, and are looking for their first three-game road winning streak of the year. The Solar Bears have played the fewest home games in the ECHL, posting a 7-8-4 mark in 19 tilts at Amway Center.
Take the Open Shot
When the opposing team pulled its goaltender, the old theory used to see lots of clubs play safe, gain the center red line, and not get greedy by selfishly firing toward the empty cage. Times are changing, and the statistics reflect that. Both the Nailers and Solar Bears were involved in an empty net goal in their most recent games, as Toledo and Florida added one more insurance marker onto their respective victories. Wheeling has scored into a vacant goal seven times, while opposing squads have done so four times, meaning 11 of the first 49 games have seen an empty net strike. On the flip side of that equation, the Nailers and their opponents have only scored once each with an extra attacker on the ice, and neither of those tallies have tied the tilt to force overtime. Since the start of last season, Wheeling and its opposition have combined to rack up 23 empty net goals, while collecting nine goals with an extra attacker.
Amway Center Awaits us
Friday night marks the first of three head-to-head meetings between the Nailers and Solar Bears this season, as well as the first of three battles at Amway Center. The trip to Orlando has been a long one coming for Wheeling, who makes its first visit since a three-game series in January of 2013. Those were the first three matches ever played between the two Eastern Conference clubs, as each of the following five were played over a four-year span at WesBanco Arena. The Nailers took a couple of points out of that road set, recording an overtime loss and a shootout defeat, and this weekend, they will look to earn their first ever win against the Solar Bears. Wheeling will also attempt to do something it hasn't done since Orlando joined the ECHL - beat every team on its schedule. It can achieve that feat with a triumph on Friday night.