Nailers move into tie for division lead

On the strength of a 5-0-1 run in their last six games, the Wheeling Nailers have pulled into a tie with Reading for the top spot in the Atlantic Division with an 8-5-2 record for 18 points.


The Nailers opened last week with a 3-2 shootout loss at Reading on Wednesday. Matt Grassi scored his first pro goal for Wheeling while Zack Torquato tallied two points (1g-1a).


Wheeling continued its road trip on Friday, and rallied for a 5-4 overtime win at Fort Wayne. The Nailers trailed 3-0 before ripping off three consecutive goals in a seven-minute span bridging the second and third period. The Komets scored just under six minutes remaining in regulation to retake the lead, but Carter Rowney’s goal with 33 seconds left sent the game to overtime where Mike Ratchuk tallied with 19 seconds remaining to cap the comeback for Wheeling. Ratchuk had four points (2g-2a) in the win while Torquato tallied three assists.


The Nailers ended their week with a 4-2 win at Cincinnati on Sunday. Torquato once again had a hot hand, notching a pair of goals, including scoring a shorthanded goal, which was the eventual game-winning tally, 4:11 into the second period. Sahir Gill added a pair of assists while Mike Condon stopped 27 Cyclones’ shots to record the win in goal.


Torquato, who played his 200th career professional game on Sunday, has a five-game point streak (4g-7a) and lead the team overall this season with 17 points (5g-12a). Rowney leads the team with six goals, which has him tied for fourth among ECHL rookies, while his 13 points are tied for fourth among first-year players. Gill is tied for third on the Nailers with 10 points (2g-8a) and his eight assists are tied for third among rookies.


Condon has appeared in goal for 10 of Wheeling’s 15 games this season, and is tied for fifth in the league with a .929 save percentage while ranking 11th with a 2.28 goals-against average.


The Nailers wrap up their five-game road trip this week, visiting Cincinnati on Wednesday and Elmira on Friday, before returning home for games against Toledo on Saturday and the Cyclones on Sunday. Saturday’s game is the start of a season-high nine-game home stand for the Nailers.