NAILERS GAMEDAY 2020-21
Special Teams Send Stingrays to Win Column
South Carolina Scores Three Power Play Goals to Take 6-3 Decision
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC- The South Carolina Stingrays had struggled on the power play in their first eight games, but on Saturday night, it was one of their biggest weapons. Cole Ully's power play goal snapped a tie game in the second period and was the first of three South Carolina power play strikes, as the Stingrays knocked off the Wheeling Nailers, 6-3 at North Charleston Coliseum.
The first period saw a little bit of everything, as both teams scored twice and there was also a big scuffle. The Stingrays needed just 56 seconds to open the scoring, as Darien Craighead finished off a two-on-one rush with Justin Florek. Wheeling rebounded a little less than four minutes later, as Shane Kuzmeski led Matt Alfaro in on the right side of the offensive zone. Alfaro drove to the net, and ripped a shot in on the left side of the goal. Patrick Watling put the Nailers ahead 4:03 after that, when he poked the puck away from a South Carolina defender and squeezed a backhander through Alex Dubeau's legs. Mason Morelli tied the tilt at two with 4:07 remaining, as he dunked in a pass from Caleb Herbert on the right side of the crease.
Wheeling ran into penalty trouble in the middle of the second period and the Stingrays cashed in with a power play goal at the 13:26 mark. Cole Ully dragged the puck around at the left face-off dot to establish some extra space, which he utilized to ring a shot just inside of the right post. South Carolina upped its advantage to two a few minutes later, when Ully forced a turnover, which led to a quick passing play, in which Max Novak setup Herbert for a chip shot at the top of the crease.
The Stingrays added to their lead with a power play strike early in the third. Herbert had his left circle shot stopped, but Dylan Steman pounded in the rebound. Cody Sylvester brought the Nailers to within two thanks to a snipe on a two-on-one break from the left circle, but Steman's second of the period into an empty night put the finishing touches on South Carolina's 6-3 win.
Alex Dubeau backstopped the victory for the Stingrays, as he stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced. Shane Starrett made 27 saves on 32 shots in the loss for Wheeling.
Stingrays Surge Late in Home Win
Brandon Halverson Stops 44 in Second Start of Season for Wheeling
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC- Brandon Halverson stood on his head with a 44-save performance for the Wheeling Nailers on Friday night, as they continued their road trip against the South Carolina Stingrays at North Charleston Coliseum. Unfortunately, that effort wasn't enough to get the team into the win column, as the Stingrays got a goal from Zach Malatesta to break a late deadlock in what turned out to be a 4-2 win for the home team. Sean Josling and Lawton Courtnall tallied for Wheeling.
The two teams played to a scoreless first period, which featured fabulous goaltending by Brandon Halverson, as South Carolina outshot the Nailers, 16-8. In the middle frame, Wheeling got the scoring started. Sean Josling battled the puck over the offensive blueline and got some separation on the right side, which allowed him to rip a shot into the left side of the net. A little more than four minutes later, the Nailers struck again, thanks to a tally by their shorthanded specialist, Lawton Courtnall. Dylan MacPherson aired a long pass from end to end, which landed with Courtnall in the right circle. Courtnall waited out the defense and goalie, before pounding a shot into the left side of the cage. The Stingrays pulled within a goal less than a minute later on a Dan DeSalvo breakaway, as he swept a shot in along the ice.
South Carolina drew even at the 1:40 mark of the third period. Justin Florek dragged the puck to the front of the net, where Andrew Cherniwchan picked up the loose change and lifted a shot up top. The Stingrays put heavy pressure on for the majority of the stanza, and with 4:13 remaining, they took their first lead of the night. DeSalvo shook the puck out of the corner to Zach Malatesta, who slammed in a one-timer from the high slot. The Nailers turned on the pressure late, but an empty netter by Mason Morelli closed out the 4-2 South Carolina win.
Alex Dubeau picked up the victory for the Stingrays, as he made 25 saves on 27 shots. Brandon Halverson played extremely well for Wheeling, as he stopped 44 of the 47 shots he faced in the defeat.
Nailers Get it Done in Overtime
Matt Alfaro Scores Winning Goal on Two-Man Advantage
GREENVILLE, SC- Overtime hadn't been too friendly to the Wheeling Nailers to start the 2020-21 season, but on Wednesday night, things turned in the other direction. Wheeling got a two-man advantage in the bonus period and made it pay off, as Matt Alfaro finished off the rebound of his initial shot to lift the Nailers to a 5-4 victory over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
The Swamp Rabbits got on the board first with a fortunate bounce, but Wheeling rebounded well and took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room. On the Greenville strike, Matt Wedman tossed a puck into the slot, where it bounced off of a Nailers player and trickled into the goal. Wheeing tied things up at the 11:55 mark, as Cody Sylvester crossed into the slot and launched a wrist shot past John Lethemon on his glove side. With 3:27 left in the frame, the Nailers took the lead with a shorthanded tally. Brady Tomlak poked the puck away at his own blueline, springing Lawton Courtnall on a breakaway. Courtnall faked to his backhand in order to shovel a shot into the top of the net.
The middle frame started with a back-and-forth stretch, which resulted in a 3-3 deadlock. Joey Haddad tied the game the first time for the Swamp Rabbits, as he wired in a one-time feed from Frank Hora in the right circle. Wheeling went back on top 1:36 later, as Ryan Scarfo drove to the front of the net to tap in the rebound of Patrick Watling's initial shot. Greenville's next equalizer came at the 9:47 mark, when Greg Meireles connected with Max Zimmer, who cruised into the slot to deposit the pass into the left side of the cage.
Two goals in a span of 23 seconds got things rolling at the start of the third period. Ryan Zuhlsdorf slid in a shot from the left point to briefly put the Swamp Rabbits ahead, before Sean Josling sniped a wrist shot from the right circle to square the score at four. Those were the lone goals of the stanza, as both teams went to overtime for the fourth time in eight games this season.
For the third time this year, special teams decided the result in the extra session, and this one went to the Nailers, who drew back-to-back penalties to create a 5-on-3. Josling dished a pass through the crease to Matt Alfaro, who had his first shot robbed, but was able to follow up and cash in on the rebound to give Wheeling the 5-4 triumph.
Robert's Hat Trick Helps Nailers Earn a Point in Indy
Wheeling Takes Four Points in Four-Game Set With Fuel
INDIANAPOLIS, IN- The Wheeling Nailers are ready to take a break from playing the Indy Fuel. On Saturday night, the two teams met for the fourth time in a row, and all four games were decided by one goal. Wheeling was able to pick up a point, but Spencer Watson's power play goal gave Indy a 5-4 overtime win at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Felix Robert netted a hat trick for the Nailers, while Michael Joly notched his 100th pro goal as part of a three-point night.
The Nailers had their best first period of the season, as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The first goal came at the 5:35 mark. Michael Joly's shot whistled just wide to the left, but a hard rebound off the end wall allowed Felix Robert to tap the puck in on his backhand. Robert struck again with 5:58 left in the stanza, when he took a Brady Tomlak feed and cruised in on the right side, before roofing a shot into the top-left corner of the cage.
Indy turned things on in the middle frame, as it scored three of the four goals to tie the score. The Fuel got on the board courtesy of Antoine Waked, who deflected in Cliff Watson's shot from the left point. Wheeling temporarily went back ahead by two, as Robert completed his hat trick by drilling in a one-time feed from Michael Joly. Matt Miller also collected an assist for his first pro point. Indy appeared to pull within a goal at the 14:53 mark, but Matt Marcinew's strike was wiped off the board. The Fuel scored a goal that counted 37 seconds later off of a left side wrist shot by Scott Savage, then tied the contest with 1:12 left in the stanza, when Nic Pierog chipped in a cross-crease pass from Derek Barach.
The opening minute of the third period saw some quick action, as the two sides scored eight seconds apart from each other. Peter Krieger roofed a shot from the right circle for Indy, then Michael Joly jammed in a wraparound for the Nailers. The rest of the stanza was scoreless, as the teams went to overtime for the second straight Saturday.
For the second straight week, the Fuel got the extra point, thanks to special teams. Spencer Watson connected on a snap shot from the slot on the power play, giving Indy the 5-4 win.
Dan Bakala was the winning goaltender for the Fuel, as he made 19 saves on 23 shots. Shane Starrett took the overtime defeat for Wheeling, after stopping 26 of the 31 shots he faced.
Lots of Celebrating for Nailers on New Year's Eve
Watling's Two Goals, Plus First Pro Goals by Tomlak & Kuzmeski Put Wheeling in the Win Column
WHEELING, WV- New Year's Eve has traditionally been a successful night for the Wheeling Nailers, and on Thursday night, it was just what they needed to get their first win of the year. Patrick Watling got Wheeling's three-goal second period rolling, then netted what turned out to be the game winner in the third period, as the Nailers earned their 17th New Year's Eve win all-time, 4-3 over the Indy Fuel at WesBanco Arena. Brady Tomlak and Shane Kuzmeski were the other goal scorers, who both recorded their first of their pro careers.
The Nailers came out with some good energy, but the lone goal in the first period was scored by the Fuel on a power play. Spencer Watson made a perfect play at the right point, as he wristed the puck to the left side of the slot, where it was redirected into the net by Derek Barach.
The middle frame was a thriller for Wheeling, as the home team lit the lamp three times. Similar to Indy in the first, a power play marker turned the tide. Felix Robert slipped the puck into the slot for Patrick Watling, who flicked a shot into the right side of the cage. 55 seconds later, the Nailers took the lead. Dylan MacPherson let a wrist shot go from the right point, which was tipped home by Brady Tomlak for his first professional goal. Shane Kuzmeski also collected his first career tally at the 15:29 mark, when his blast from the blueline found the target. Nic Pierog brought the Fuel within a goal during the final minute, as he slid in a one-time feed from Jared Thomas.
At the 5:10 mark of the third period, Wheeling got a key insurance goal, which turned out to be the game winner. After the Nailers won a couple of puck battles, Sean Josling tossed a pass through the low slot to Watling, who cashed in for his second marker of the night. Antoine Waked bounced in the rebound of Willie Raskob's initial shot to make it a one-goal game, but Wheeling was determined to get to the finish line and it did, closing out the 4-3 home win.
Shane Starrett earned the victory in goal for the Nailers, as he denied 25 of the 28 shots he faced. Tom Aubrun took the loss for Indy, as he made 24 saves on 28 shots.
Fuel Escape with Fifth Straight One-Goal Win
Michael Pelech Dishes out Three Primary Assists for Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Indy Fuel have been making a living off of winning close games, and on Sunday afternoon, they improved to 5-0 in one-goal games, as they edged the Wheeling Nailers, 4-3 at WesBanco Arena. Peter Krieger tallied twice for the Fuel, including the game winning goal on the power play in the third period. Michael Pelech dished out the primary assist on each of Wheeling's three markers.
The Nailers had a huge start to the game, as they had three power play opportunities in the opening ten minutes. The third man advantage was the charm, as Michael Pelech snapped a pass through the low slot to Felix Robert, who banged in a one-timer on the left side. Unfortunately for Wheeling, the Fuel responded quickly, as they scored a pair of goals to take the lead. The first tally came on the man advantage, as Peter Krieger picked the top-left corner of the net from his spot on the left face-off dot. 1:04 later, the visitors struck again, as Matt Marcinew raced over the blueline and rang a wrist shot in off the crossbar.
Hard work was the theme of the middle frame for the Nailers, as they outshot Indy, 13-7, while netting the tying goal. Shane Kuzmeski tossed the puck toward the goal, where the reboud was dug free by Pelech to Tyler Drevitch. Drevitch quickly shifted the puck to his backhand in order to lift a shot into the top shelf.
A key moment in the game occurred at the 6:35 mark of the third period, while Wheeling was on the power play. The Nailers turned the puck over in their own zone and Nic Pierog capitalized, faking to his backhand, and flipping a shot into the goal. The Fuel extended their lead on their own power play a little more than four minutes later, when Krieger cashed in with his second in the day into the top-right corner. Wheeling trimmed the deficit down to one with under two minutes to play, as Pelech made a dazzling through-the-legs pass to Matt Alfaro, who chipped in a backhander on the right side of the slot. A late penalty handicapped the Nailers' chance to pull even, as Indy prevailed with the 4-3 decision.
Tom Aubrun stopped 36 of the 39 shots in his pro debut to record the win for the Fuel. Brandon Halverson made 24 saves on 28 shots in his season debut for Wheeling.
Nailers Take Another Point, but Indy Wins in Overtime
Matt Alfaro Becomes the Fifth Straight Rookie to Score His First Career Goal
INDIANAPOLIS, IN- For the second straight game, the Wheeling Nailers came away with one point and very nearly got a second one. However, Peter Krieger's shorthanded goal at the 4:31 mark of overtime delivered a 2-1 win for the Indy Fuel at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Matt Alfaro tallied the lone marker for the Nailers - the fifth straight goal by a Wheeling rookie.
The two division rivals played to a scoreless first period, which featured a 7-5 shots advantage for Wheeling. Indy was the first team to get on the board at the 9:43 mark of the middle frame. Shane Starrett made back-to-back splendid saves during a shift of heavy pressure, but DJ Busdeker eventually broke through, as he grabbed the final rebound and stashed it into the right side of the cage. The Nailers answered 1:55 later. Matt Alfaro breezed into the left circle and wired his first professional goal inside of the right post.
Both teams had strong defensive showings in the third period, which included successful performances on the penalty kill. That led to a 1-1 deadlock, which sent the contest into overtime.
In the extra session, the Fuel came away with the extra point, as Peter Krieger had his shorthanded breakaway attempt stopped, but he was able to follow up his own shot and tuck in the rebound for the 2-1 Indy win.
Dan Bakala picked up the victory in net for the Fuel, as he stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced. Shane Starrett turned in another great performance for Wheeling, as he made 24 saves on 26 shots in the overtime defeat.
Nailers Pick up First Point in Overtime Defeat
Lawton Courtnall & Felix Robert Join the Parade of Players to Score First Goals
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers put forth a tremendous effort on Saturday night in their weekend finale against the Orlando Solar Bears. Unfortunately, they were only able to come away with one point, as Alex Green's goal in the final minute of overtime lifted the Solar Bears to the 3-2 road win at WesBanco Arena. Lawton Courtnall and Felix Robert both netted their first career goals for the Nailers.
The Nailers put some solid opportunities together in the opening stanza, but an unlucky bounce led to Orlando getting on the board first. Ryan Lohin's pass through the slot got blocked, but the puck deflected to Peter Abbandonato, who placed a shot into the open left side of the twine.
Wheeling wasn't discouraged, and thanks to some big saves by Shane Starrett, the home team was able to fight back and get two big goals during the final five minutes of period two. The first tally came shorthanded. Matt Alfaro gloved the puck down at his own blueline and broke away. He had his shot stopped, but Lawton Courtnall followed and lifted in the first goal of his pro career. With under 30 seconds to go, the Nailers struck for their first power play goal of the year, which was also a first for a player, as Felix Robert rifled a shot under the crossbar for the first marker of his career.
The Solar Bears pulled even in the third period, as they converted for their first power play tally of the campaign. Aaron Luchuk fed Jimmy Huntington, who zipped a wrist shot into the top-left corner from the left face-off dot. Wheeling recovered to kill another Orlando man advantage in the closing minutes of regulation to force an extra session.
Overtime featured loads of chances for each team, as there were ten shots combined shots on goal. Both netminders were spectacular, as it took until 21 seconds remained to decide a winner. Defenseman Alex Green jumped up to the bottom of the left circle, where he rang the deciding marker in off the right post, as the Solar Bears skated away with the 3-2 victory.
Garret Sparks snagged the win in goal for Orlando, as he turned away 26 of the 28 shots he faced, including all six in overtime. Shane Starrett turned in a strong performance for the Nailers, as he made 28 saves on 31 shots.
Nailers Save Best for Last, but Fall to Orlando
Tyler Drevitch & Sean Josling Score First Career Goals for Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- Two rookies had goals to remember for the Wheeling Nailers on Friday night, as Tyler Drevitch and Sean Josling both scored the first goals of their professional careers. However, the second period was the story of the game, as the Orlando Solar Bears found the back of the net three times, en route to a 4-2 road win at WesBanco Arena.
The two sides played to a scoreless first period, but in the middle frame, Orlando opened things up by lighting the lamp three times. The first goal came from the blueline, as DeVante Stephens let a wrist shot go through traffic and was able to find the bottom-right corner of the cage. Less than three minutes later, the visitors upped the lead. Tyler Bird dragged the puck wide of the goal, then dropped a pass to Johno May, who smacked the loose biscuit into the top-right corner. The Nailers hoped to get some momentum off of a successful 5-on-3 penalty kill, but the Solar Bears tacked on one more tally with 2:53 remaining. Chris LeBlanc scraped the puck out of the crease, then flipped a shot under the crossbar.
The third period was Wheeling's best, but unfortunately, it was a case of too little too late. Tyler Drevitch got the Nailers on the board with a shorthanded goal at the 5:22 mark, when he sped into the right circle and tossed an offspeed shot underneath netminder Clint Windsor. Ryan Lohin gave Orlando a big insurance goal with 2:44 left, as his left side shot had just enough power to make its way in over the line. Sean Josling also picked up a marker in the third for Wheeling, as he banged in the third shot, after Windsor kicked out initial shots by Lawton Courtnall and Shane Kuzmeski. All four players involved in the third period scoring for the Nailers recorded their first professional points.
Clint Windsor was the winning goalie for the Solar Bears, as he made 22 saves on 24 shots. Shane Starrett stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced between the pipes for Wheeling.
Wheeling's Comeback Falls Short on Opening Night
Chad Duchesne & Michael Joly Tally the Goals for the Nailers
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers opened the 2020-21 season on Saturday night, as they played host to the Indy Fuel at WesBanco Arena. Chad Duchesne and Michael Joly both lit the lamp for the Nailers, but the Fuel netted two goals in a span of 27 seconds in the first period and never surrendered the lead, as they skated away with the 3-2 road win.
The highlight of the first period was a fight that everyone was looking forward to, as Brad Drobot and Patrick McGrath dropped the gloves. Unfortunately for Wheeling, there were two red lights that went the other way. Derek Barach opened the scoring for the Fuel, when he drilled in a one-time feed from Derian Plouffe in the left circle. 27 seconds later, David Broll extended the advantage for the visitors, when he redirected in Seamus Malone's wrist shot from long distance.
The Nailers got their first goal of the season at the 6:23 mark of the middle frame. Chad Duchesne stepped up into the high slot and wired a slap shot into the top-left corner of the cage. However, Indy rebuilt its two-goal edge with 6:46 remaining, when Jared Thomas hammered in a one-timer, which was set up by Peter Krieger and former Nailer Alex Rauter.
Wheeling pulled to within a goal with 3:11 remaining, when Michael Joly broke behind the defense, and swept a shot through Dan Bakala's legs. Drydn Dow had the lead pass to send Joly on the break and Shane Starrett also picked up an assist from the crease. The comeback ended up falling short, as the Fuel prevailed, 3-2.
Dan Bakala backstopped the win in goal for Indy, as he made 32 saves on 34 shots. Shane Starrett was saddled with the defeat, despite stopping 23 of the 26 shots he faced.
Nailers Announce 2020-21 Season Opening Roster
Wheeling Begins its 29th Season Saturday Against Indy
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their season opening roster for the 2020-21 season. Wheeling is opening the season with 26 players - 15 forwards, eight defensemen, and three goaltenders.
Starting in the crease, the Nailers have three netminders who all have professional experience. Shane Starrett was assigned to Wheeling from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, after spending all of last season with the AHL's Bakersfield Condors. The last time Starrett played a full season in the ECHL was in 2017-18, when he was an all-star with the Wichita Thunder. Brandon Halverson has also spent significant time in the AHL, primarily with the Hartford Wolf Pack, while also appearing in an NHL game with the New York Rangers. Halverson spent last season with the Norfolk Admirals, and posted a .904 save percentage. Hayden Hawkey saw limited action last season as a member of the Kansas City Mavericks, but the former Montreal Canadiens draft pick had a sensational college career at Providence, where he went 72-36-13.
On the blueline, there are two familiar faces in Dane Birks and Marc-Olivier Duquette. Birks played for Wheeling in 2018-19, then was involved in an NHL trade, which led him to the Rapid City Rush last season. Duquette was a rookie with the Nailers last season, and is one of only two returning players from that squad. Chad Duchesne is the most experienced player among Wheeling defensemen, as he begins his fifth pro season, after spending each of the first four with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Dylan MacPherson also played for Greenville last season and contributed 17 points as a rookie. Drydn Dow makes his North American pro debut following two seasons with the EIHL's Dundee Stars, and is coming off leading the EIHL with 14 goals a year ago. Ohio State's top defensive scorer Matt Miller is set to make his pro debut with the Nailers, in addition to Matt Foley out of Yale University and Shane Kuzmeski out of Clarkson University.
Up front, Cody Sylvester is one of two forwards who has played in Wheeling before, as he led the 2013-14 team with 24 goals. He has spent the last six seasons playing in Europe. The other familiar face is fan favorite Brad Drobot, who returns for his third season in the Friendly City. Michael Pelech ranks fourth in ECHL history with 705 games played, sixth with 372 assists, and 21st with 541 points. Michael Joly has spent the last two seasons in the AHL, and the last time the ECHL saw him, he was hoisting hardware as the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoff MVP with the Colorado Eagles. Kevin Dufour eclipsed the 20-goal plateau the last time he played in the ECHL, and is coming off a successful season as Dow's teammate in Dundee. Patrick Watling notched 89 points in 103 ECHL games with Orlando and Tulsa, and he returns to the pro ranks after two seasons at the University of New Brunswick.
The Nailers also have a significant amount of rookies among their forwards, starting with AHL contract Felix Robert, who ranked third in the QMJHL with 92 points last season, while playing with Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick Samuel Poulin in Sherbrooke. Luke Lynch continues the Robert Morris University pipeline to Wheeling, and will look to enjoy similar success as his brother Zac did two seasons ago. Sean Josling had a standout performance in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage, after leading the OHL's Sarnia Sting in scoring last year. Matt Alfaro and Ben Freeman also led their teams in scoring in 2019-20, as Alfaro did so for the University of Calgary and Freeman did so for the University of Connecticut. Brady Tomlak is a Lieutenant in the Air Force, Lawton Courtnall of Western Michigan University continues his family's legacy by playing pro hockey, Tyler Drevitch was a captain at Merrimack College, and Nick Rivera was a captain at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
The ECHL has announced the following roster modifications that are in place for the start of the 2020-21 season:
The ECHL has temporarily approved additional roster spots for each team for the assignment of National Hockey League and American Hockey League contracted Players. As a result of these additional roster spots, ECHL teams will be allowed to dress two additional skaters for each game, raising the lineup limit to 18 skaters and two goaltenders.
ECHL teams can carry a maximum of 20 Players on the active roster, no more than 18 of whom may be skaters, at any one time. For the first 30 days of the regular season, teams can carry a maximum of 21 Players on the active roster, no more than 19 of whom may be skaters, at any one time.
Teams are permitted to carry up to three (3) Players at a time on the Reserve List, while an unlimited number of players can be placed on the 14-day Injured Reserve.
The Wheeling Nailers will open the 2020-21 regular season on Saturday, December 12th at 7:10, when they play host to the Indy Fuel. Season memberships are available for the 2020-21 season. To purchase yours or to get more information, visit wheelingnailers.com or call (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.