Winning 3-0 at Reading on March 9, Wheeling became the first team from the Eastern Conference and the third team overall to qualify for the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs. It is the first postseason appearance for the Nailers since 1997-98 when Wheeling lost in the Northern Conference Finals.
Wheeling is 27-4-3 at home and 48-14-3 overall and leads the ECHL with 99 points. The Nailers have set team records for wins (48), points (99) and road wins (21) while tying the team record for home wins (27). The league records for points (116), winning percentage (.806), wins (56), home wins (30) and road wins (26) were all set by Louisiana in 2001-02.
The Nailers’ 40-point increase from 2002-03 to 2003-04 is the fourth-highest point increase from one season to the next surpassing the 39-point increase by Greensboro from 2001-02 to 2002-03 (54 points to 93 points) and only three points from tying Arkansas, which had a 43-point increase from 1999-2000 to 2000-01 (39 points to 82 points), for third place. The greatest single season point increase is 50 points by Knoxville from 1992-93 to 1993-94 (44 points to 94 points) which broke Knoxville’s record of 49 points from 1989-90 to 1990-91 (48 points to 97 points).
Wheeling’s team record and ECHL season-high 12-game winning streak ended with a 4-3 shootout loss to Atlantic City on March 12. The loss also snapped a 14-game home winning streak for the Nailers, a streak that tied the league season high set by San Diego from December 30 to February 21. The Nailers lost 6-2 at Johnstown on March 13 ending an eight-game road winning streak that tied the team record while also being the longest road winning streak in the ECHL in 2003-04.
Wheeling is looking to win its fourth Henry Brabham Cup, the trophy awarded annually to the regular-season point champion of the ECHL. Wheeling won the Brabham Cup as the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds in 1989-90 and as the Wheeling Thunderbirds in 1992-93 and 1994-95.