WHEELING, W.Va. – The Nailers are playing well currently having won three straight and earned a standings point in seven straight. After a dismal 1-5-0-0 start to the year, Wheeling has turned it on lately with an 11-6-2-0 record in their last 19 games. The Nailers have been rolling and climbed to third in the Central Division standings. Head coach Mike Bavis has seen great penalty kill play as well as strong play in net to help climb out of the basement of the ECHL’s Western Conference.
After having two players win ECHL player of the week honors a week ago, the Nailers saw one of the two repeat as winner for only the fifth time in the history of the award. Cam Brown became the first Wheeling player to repeat as player of the week and the first to win the award multiple times in a season since Cody Sylvester in 2013-14. The last player in the league to win in consecutive weeks was Mark Derlago in 2009-10 while playing for Idaho.
Offensively, the Nailers are currently paced by Nick Saracino and his 32 points, currently second in the ECHL scoring race, five points behind leader Caleb Herbert of Utah. Saracino had 13 goals and 19 assists making up his 32 points. Saracino is on an eight-game point streak collecting 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists). Saracino’s linemate Brown has seven goals and 21 assists for 29 points, good for second on the team. In the last eight contests, Brown has scored six goals and helped on 14 others.
The penalty kill is an area that has excelled lately for the Nailers as the team had killed 23 of the last 24 penalties against. Wheeling has also scored shorthanded three times in the last eight games. On the season, the team from Nail City has an 84.5% kill rate (98-of-116) and has scored seven shorthanded goals. Wheeling’s powerplay is currently ranked sixth in the league with a 19.4% (21-of-108) while only surrendering four shorthanded goals against.
Goaltending for Wheeling seems to have stabilized as Jordan Ruby and Matt O’Connor have both shown excellence in the crease lately. Heading into tonight’s game in Norfolk, the Nailers had allowed three or less goals in 14 of the last 18 games. O’Connor currently leads the team in victories with five (5-2-1-0 overall record), while Ruby has three wins (3-1-1-0). O’Connor also has a slightly better goals against average at 2.74 to Ruby’s 2.77 and the same for save percentage with O’Connor at .906 and Ruby .903.
The Nailers are currently on the road with two more against the Norfolk Admirals before the holiday break. The Nailers are 2-1-0-0 against Norfolk having won last Saturday night at home 5-1 and a 7-6 shootout thriller on Wednesday night.
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