WHEELING - Another important week is upon the Wheeling Nailers.
Clinging to a five-point lead in the Atlantic Division but are just sixth in the Eastern Conference. Therefore, this week, when the Nailers play four games in five nights, beginning tonight in Reading, could go a long way in determining their eventual fate. Wheeling welcomes Cincinnati on Thursday and Toledo on Saturday, then is at the Walleye on Sunday.
The Nailers are coming off a 1-1-1 week, but earned three of a possible four points on the backend of that equation. They team has been ravaged the last month or so by callups to the American Hockey League but has not only managed to stay afloat, but maintained its spot atop the division. Reinforcements, though, are here, and more are scheduled.
Returning from the Hamilton is starting goaltender Mike Condon, who owns a 10-4-4 record as well as a 2.33 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in 18 games with Wheeling. Also coming from the Bulldogs is 6-foot-1, 197-pound defenseman Drew Schiestel, a former second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres. In 21 AHL games he registered 16 assists and an even rating.
Three more bodies are expected today from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Forward Jack MacLellan scored 101 points (46g-55a) during 121 games of a four-year college career at Brown University. But he had yet to break out in the pros, scoring just three goals in 45 games last season.
Last week, though, we may have seen the beginning of a big run. MacLellan, who missed nearly two months with an injury earlier this season, scored a goal in all three Nailers games and has seven for the season in just 15 games.
''He's really talented and you're starting to see his speed, his hockey sense and his IQ,'' Nailers coach Clark Donatelli said. ''Hopefully that will continue.
''I think he's starting to get in a little bit better game shape.''
Thursday Night Discount
Taking advantage of the freezing temperatures that have engulfed the Ohio Valley, the Nailers have announced a $10 Polar Vortex discount for Thursday night's matchup with the Cyclones at WesBanco Arena. On Monday, the club announced the offer, which discounted tickets for the game by $1 for each degree that the temperature was below zero. Monday night's low in Wheeling was -10 degrees, meaning that fans will be able to receive $10 off of the purchase of their ticket. Kids tickets and seats in the Riesbeck's Family Fun Zone will be free of charge.
Well done, Nailers. Well done.
Shawn Rine can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org