WHEELING, W.Va. – Wheeling Nailers head coach Derek Army has mentioned it time and again in post-game interviews, if you win the special teams battle you normally win the game. The Nailers did just that Wednesday night, scoring two goals on the power play and one shorthanded to defeat the Indy Fuel by a 4-2 margin.
Coming into Wednesday’s contest, the Nailers were struggling on special teams. The power play was converting on a lowly 11.1% rate, last in the ECHL. The penalty kill unit has killed 29 of the 50 power plays allowed for a 78% kill rate, 16th in the 28-team ECHL. Coach Army had stated getting the power play corrected was a priority.
Things didn’t look to be going in a positive direction for the Wheeling special teams as a miscue with the puck on an early second period power play led to the first Fuel goal, a shorthanded marker by Chase Lang. A careless pass attempt that was intercepted by former Nailer Shane Kuzmeski gave Indy possession. Kuzmeski quickly passed the puck to Lang at the top of the crease and he roofed it over the top of Wheeling netminder Tommy Nappier to pull even at 1-1, time of the goal 1:34 of the second period.
After allowing the shorthanded marker, the Nailers power play seemed to get on track. On the next Wheeling man advantage, the Nailers won the faceoff, and a couple of quick passes later, Josh Maniscalco fired the puck in from the right side of the slot, putting Wheeling up 2-1 at 15:48 of the second. Just under two minutes later, Indy won a faceoff in neutral ice and the puck went to goaltender Zach Driscoll, who misplayed it. The puck kicked off his left leg pad and into the net for a Wheeling shorthanded goal credited to Tyler Drevitch.
Wheeling closed out its scoring with another power play marker, this one again the result of good puck movement as Brooklyn Kalmikov sent a shot-pass to the front of the net where Justin Addamo redirected it into the net, giving Wheeling a three-goal lead at 2:16 of the third period.
Wheeling finished the night 2-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the kill. Wheeling also dominated shots on goal, firing 48 shots to Indy’s 26.
“I think the power play had some good looks, and then we gave up a shorthanded goal of our own and that kind of woke them up; that they need to answer the bell. Maniscalco scoring really did that, and obviously Addamo with a great play on his goal from Kalmikov, and its great to be back on the board,” the Nailers bench boss commented about the power plays.
Indy returns home to face the Iowa Heartlanders in their next contest on Friday, with faceoff set for 7:00pm from Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
The Nailers will travel to Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo, MI to face the Wings on Friday. This game also starts at 7:00pm.
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