Nailers open playoffs against division rivals in postseason play

WHEELING — The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their schedule for the Central Division semifinal round of the 2024 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Nailers will face the Indy Fuel in a best-of-7 series, which begins on Friday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

This is Wheeling’s second trip to the postseason in the last three years, as the Nailers posted a 38-28-4-1 record, good for 81 points. It is the first time that Wheeling has earned at least 80 points in a season since 2015-16, when the team reached the Kelly Cup Final. The Nailers rode a three-game winning streak and five-game point streak to their third place position in the Central Division, and officially punched their ticket with a 6-0 win over Cincinnati on Saturday night. The opposition for round one is the second-place Fuel, who finished with a 39-25-6-2 record, good for 86 points. This is Indy’s second straight trip to the playoffs and third in the last four years.

There is plenty of familiarity for these two division rivals, as the 11 head-to-head meetings during the 2023-24 regular season were the most for Wheeling against any opponent. Indy got the upper hand 8-3 in the season series, which saw three overtime clashes and three additional games decided by one goal. The Nailers collected two of their three victories at WesBanco Arena, while the Fuel held serve by winning five of six tilts at home. The top points producer in the season series was Indy’s Bryan Lemos, who had 15 points. His teammate, Kyle Maksimovich, was the leading goal scorer with seven. Wheeling was led by Jordan Frasca, who racked up 11 points, despite missing three games in the set. Mitchell Weeks of the Fuel had the most success between the pipes, as he went 5-1-1 in seven starts, while Taylor Gauthier was responsible for two of the three wins by the Nailers.

This will be the first-ever playoff series between Wheeling and Indy. The Nailers began play in 1992 as the Thunderbirds, when the team relocated from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This is Wheeling’s 16th postseason appearance in 32 seasons. The Fuel joined the ECHL in 2014 to continue a long tradition of hockey in Indianapolis. This is the fourth time that the Kelly Cup Playoffs will feature Indy in 10 seasons. Once the series begins, the Nailers will have played in at least one playoff series against every current Central Division club except for Iowa.

Game 2 of the series will also be played at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Saturday. The series will then shift to WesBanco Arena for games 3 and 4 on April 22 and 23. If a fifth game is necessary, that game will be played on April 27 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Pa. Games 6 and 7 will be played in Indy, if necessary. All home games will begin at 7:10 p.m.

One additional schedule note: The game originally scheduled for Friday, April 12 between the Wheeling Nailers and Toledo Walleye has been canceled, due to all playoff spots and seedings being solidified. Fans who had tickets for the game will receive a refund via the method of their original purchase.

For all ticketing questions or concerns regarding both regular season and playoff games, please call the Nailers office at (304) 234-4625.


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