The Wheeling Nailers became the first team in ECHL postseason history to win Games 6 and 7 of a series on the road, defeating the South Carolina Stingrays 5-2 on Tuesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to reach the 2016 Kelly Cup Finals where they will face the defending champion Allen Americans.
Wheeling drew first blood 2:21 into the contest on John McCarron’s eighth goal of the playoffs but David Pacan pulled South Carolina even just 1:08 later as he redirected a Wade Epp shot past Brian Foster.
The Nailers went back ahead at 8:03 when Cody Wydo put a rebound of a McCarron shot past Vitek Vanecek but once again the Stingrays responded with a power-play goal from Austin Fyten at 18:26 to forge a 2-2 tie after 20 minutes.
The game remained tied until the early stages of the third period when the Nailers tallied three goals in the first five minutes of the period. Jarrett Burton gave Wheeling a 3-2 lead 24 seconds into the final frame, Jordan Kwas exended the lead to two goals at 1:09 and Ty Loney made it 5-2 at 5:03.
This marks Wheeling’s first trip to the Finals series since the team’s first year in Wheeling in 1993 when the Wheeling Thunderbirds fell to the Toledo Storm in six games in the Riley Cup Finals. The club also advanced to the Riley Cup Finals each of the ECHL’s first two seasons when it was based in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Thunderbirds defeated the Johnstown Chiefs 4 games to 3 in 1989 before falling to the Greensboro Monarchs 4 games to 1 in 1990.
For winning the Eastern Conference title, the Nailers receive the E.A. “Bud” Gingher Memorial Trophy. The trophy is named in recognition of E.A. “Bud” Gingher, who was Chairman of the ECHL Board of Governors from 1992-95. Gingher, who passed away in 2002, co-founded the Dayton Bombers in 1991 and owned the team for seven seasons, serving as President and Governor until selling the team in 1998. Gingher was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009.
Gingher Trophy Champions
|2015||South Carolina Stingrays|
|2009||South Carolina Stingrays|
|2003||Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies|
|1998||Hampton Roads Admirals|