Game 64: Elmira Jackals (14-41-7-1) vs. Wheeling Nailers (31-25-7-0)
7:05 p.m., First Arena, Elmira, New York
The Jackals and Wheeling Nailers conclude their brief season series with a the second game of the week between the clubs at First Arena. Despite being divisional foes, this is just the third and final time the teams square off this season. Wheeling has captured the first two matches, 5-2 Dec. 31 in Wheeling and 5-4 Wednesday.
The Nailers have points in all three games (2-0-1-0) to begin this four-game road trip, but let a 3-0 lead slip away in last night's overtime loss in Adirondack. They are just 4-5-1-0 in their last 10 games overall, leaving them at 31-25-7-0 on the season. At 69 points, the Nailers are now five points out of a playoff spot in the North Division.
The Jackals have followed a three-game winning streak with three straight losses, dropping to 4-5-1-0 in their last 10 games. Elmira is now 14-41-7-1 on the season and with 36 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
Last time out
The Brampton Beast scored three power-play goals and blasted the Jackals, 6-2, to secure a season-series sweep over Elmira.
Brampton scored twice late in the first period to open a 2-0 lead in the opening frame. Brandon Marino started it by poking in a rebound at 17:32 and then Luke Pither followed with a power-play goal at 19:25. Pither scored another power-play goal at 6:39 in the second to make it 3-0 Beast before the Jackals finally got on the board on a Kenton Miller deflection for a power-play goal a 19:21.
Among some controversy, the Beast pulled away in the third with Connor Crisp making it 4-1 with a power-play goal at 7:13. The Jackals appeared to answer a few minutes later, but after a review another Kenton Miller goal was waved off despite the fact that the puck clearly hit the back of the net. Moments later, the Beast capitalized on the Jackals frustration for a 5-1 lead. Mark Bennett got one back at 13:55 with a rebound goal, but a Brampton empty-netter gave the Beast a 6-2 victory.
The Jackals have just nine games remaining and they all come against the North Division, against the five teams involved in a razor thin playoff race. The Jackals will certainly have an affect on which teams do and don't make the North Division playoffs over the final month of the season.
Elmira is just 6-29-2-0 against their divisional opponents this season, with four wins coming against the Manchester Monarchs. They've already completed the 10-game series with Reading, earning just one win in that head-to-head series and the nine-game series with Brampton, which won all nine over Elmira.
Over the final four weeks, the Jackals have one more match with Wheeling, three with Adirondack and five with Manchester. The Nailers are 2-0-0-0 against the Jackals. Adirondack has points in all seven of their head-to-head matches (6-0-0-1) while Manchester is just 5-2-2-0 against the Jackals.
Tonight is the final game of the season series between the Jackals and Nailers, with Wheeling winning both of the previous matches.
With a hat trick Wednesday in Elmira, Gage Quinney has a pair of three-point games against the Jackals and leads the series with six points (3g, 3a) in two games. Jordan Kwas is next among active players with three points (2g, 1a). Three Jackals have multi-goal games against the Nailers with Sebastien Sylvestre potting two Dec. 31 and both Kenton Miller and Sam Povorozniouk netting a pair Wednesday.
Scouting the Nailers
The reigning Eastern Conference champions have points in three straight games, but are still just 4-5-1-0 in their last 10 games and in desperate need of wins to remain in the playoff race. At 31-25-7-0, the Nailers have 69 points and are in fifth place in the North Division. They are now five points out of the final playoff position in the division with just 9 games left.
The Nailers are in the middle of the pack in terms of offense, averaging 3.40 goals per game. Rookie defenseman Kevin Schulze leads the Nailers in scoring with 53 points (11g, 42a) in 59 games. He is fourth among all rookie scorers and is second among all defenseman in the ECHL. He scored two goals in the first match with the Jackals. Cody Wydo is next with 51 points, including a team-leading 28 goals, and Nick Sorkin is third with 48 points (13g, 35a) in 50 games.
Doug Carr and Sean Maguire have split time in the Wheeling net. Carr is 16-11-2-0 in 31 games with a 3.39 goals-against average and an .887 save percentage. Maguire is 11-13-4-0 in 29 games and has a 3.24 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage. Both goalies have a win over the Jackals this season.
The Nailers have scored power-play goals in all three games this week, going 4-for-14 (28.6%) against the Jackals and Adirondack Thunder. They are eighth in the ECHL on the man advantage at 20.4% and their 60 power-play goals rank fourth in the league, behind Colorado (67), Toledo (63) and Allen (63).
The Jackals are 2-for-5 on the power play this week, scoring a goal Wednesday against Wheeling and last night versus Brampton. At 33-for-207 the Jackals are 16th in the league with the power play at 15.9% and they are 10th at home at 19.5%.
Wheeling's penalty kill faced just one Adirondack power play last night and successfully killed it off, but remain last in the league at 75.7%, allowing a league-high 60 power-play goals in 247 chances. They've allowed 31 power-play goals on the road this season.
The Jackals gave up three power-play goals in six chances to Brampton last night, sinking to 22nd in the ECHL on the PK at 80.7%. Despite the struggles last night, the Jackals are still eighth in the league on home ice at 84.9%.