Nailers return home looking to move into playoff position

The Wheeling Nailers wrapped up their six-game road trip last week, winning each of their four outings to end the trip with a 5-1-0 record. Wheeling has gone 8-2-0 in its last 10 games overall to improve to 25-21-5 for 55 points and has closed to within one point of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Nailers began last week with a 4-0 win at Adirondack on Tuesday. With the game scoreless entering the third period, Andrew Ammon provided the only goal the Nailers would need with his first goal of the season 3:22 into the final frame. Chris Ciotti, Cody Wydo and Connor Leen provided insurance goals for Franky Palazzese, who stopped all 28 shots he faced to record his third shutout of the season.

On Wednesday, Wheeling visited Elmira for the final time this season and came away with a 3-2 overtime victory. Wydo scored the game-winner 51 seconds into the extra session, and was one of two Nailers, along with Riley Brace, to notch a goal and an assist in the win. Casey DeSmith turned aside 38 of the 40 shots he faced, including 30 out of 31 over the final two periods, to pick up his third win of the year.

Wheeling headed north of the border for its final two games of the week, and began the two-game series against Brampton with a 4-2 win on Friday. Trailing 2-1 late in the second period, Jordan Kwas pulled the Nailers even with a power-play tally with 2:48 left in the period while Brace scored a pair of goals in the final period to set the final. Brett Stern added a pair of assists in the victory.

In the road-trip finale on Saturday, the Beast started quickly, taking a 3-0 lead after one period. The Nailers roared back scoring the next four goals to take a 4-3 lead, but Brampton forced overtime scoring with less than one second remaining in regulation. In the extra session, Adam Krause scored his second goal of the game to lift Wheeling to the 5-4 win.

Brace leads Wheeling with 17 goals and 40 points, and has posted 10 points (4g-6a) in six games since returning from Chicago of the American Hockey League. Mathew Maione leads all ECHL defensemen with 36 points and is tied for first with 30 assists and 14 power-play assists.

The Nailers return home for three crucial games in the Eastern Conference playoff race this weekend. Greenville, which is tied with Wheeling with 55 points, visits WesBanco Arena on Friday before Elmira comes to town for games on Saturday and Sunday. The Jackals enter the week holding down the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference with 56 points, one more than Wheeling.