By TRACY WATSON
For The News-Register
WHEELING - After a slow start, in which Wheeling lost four of its first six games, November turned into a month to remember for the Atlantic Division leading Nailers.
The hottest team in the ECHL got it done again Saturday night, winning for the eighth time in nine outings, and still getting a point in the only game they did not win during the current streak.
Ben Duffy scored his initial two goals of the season and the league's best penalty killing unit did what it does best, holding Toledo scoreless on seven man-advantage tries as Wheeling posted its second shutout in three games with a fine 3-0 victory against the Walleye at WesBanco Arena.
In his first game in net for the Nailers, Mathieu Colbeil also did an outstand job turning away 39 shots to record the shutout as Wheeling improved to 11-5-0-2 24 on the season and won for the third consecutive time at home.
Offensively, Toledo (5-9-2-0 12) has now been held scoreless in nine consecutive periods, while the Nailers' defense has allowed just three goals in four outings.
"He played great in his first game for us," Head Coach Clark Donatelli admitted. "Actually, I don't know that he could have played any better. And the guys also played very hard out in front of him.
"There were some really good saves. He has been practicing and working very hard and it paid off."
While the Walleye had been more of the aggressor for most of the first period, and had outshot the Nailers by a 7-3 margin, it was the hosts that managed to grab the lead.
Forward Anton Zlobin took a pass from Zack Torquato on his way past and buried it high into the back of the net from 15 feet away at the 13:30 mark of the opening stanza for a 1-0 upper hand.
Toledo did manage to get off 11 shots during the period, however, Corbeil was fantastic in net, saving shot after shot and keeping the visitors off the board.
It also turned into the seventh consecutive period the Walleye had been blanked after being outscored by an 11-0 margin over its previous two games this week.
Duffy's first goal of the game, and season, midway through the second period and it couldn't have come at a better time, with Toledo on the power-play.
Duffy actually stole the puck in the Nailers' zone, passed it off to Torquato, who could not track it down in the Toledo end, regained possession and blasted it past Jared Coreau for the 2-0 lead at 11:15 of the second.
Just three minutes into the final period Duffy did it again, sending the puck into net on a rebounded shot for a 3-0 score. Mike Ratchuk and Paul Cianfrini were credited with helpers on the goal.
Donatelli could not have been happier with the way his team played in the penalty kill once again.
"There are just so many guys stepping up and helping to get it done," Donatelli said. "Everyone is taking pride in killing penalties and there is a lot of confidence out there right now.
"The guys are talking and paying attention and they believe that the other team is not going to score on us when we are down a man. All of the little things are getting done.
"Right now we are finding a way to get things done and there is a confidence in what we are doing. We are back home now and we won the third period (Saturday), and when you do that you are usually going to win games.
"But at the same time I told them that we have just won a few games, we haven't done anything yet. We are going out and playing hard and winning games, and that is what we are supposed to do.
"Win periods, keep practicing hard and create good habits and good things will happen. And doing the little things has also been a big key. Things like communicating, killing penalties and staying consistent. Everything is just coming together, this is a real good group of guys and we aren't talking about streaks."
Wheeling will be back in action this afternoon at WesBanco Arena when Cincinnati visits for a 3 p.m. start. The Cyclones will be coming off a 2-1 loss last night at Elmira.
"It's a good Cincinnati team that is coming here," Donatelli added. "They are fast with a very high skill level and we are going to have to manage the puck and get physical with them."