No team in ECHL history
has overcome a 3-2 series deficit on the road to advance to the
championship round. Not one team. Let that sink in. The odds of the Wheeling Nailers
doing just that were not in their favor. But, then again, everyone loves an
With their backs against
the wall and facing elimination, it took (yet another) overtime miracle goal
scored by Jarrett Burton for the Nailers to force a Game 7.
Now, for the first time since
1993, the Wheeling Nailers are the ECHL Eastern Conference Champions. The “Bad
Boys from the Wheel” are now headed to the Kelly Cup Finals after eliminating
the South Carolina Stingrays 5-2.
The scoring started out
early with a John McCarron wrister and a tying, tip in goal from the ‘Rays forward
David Pacan. Cody Wydo would briefly pull the Nailers ahead 2-1 after taking
his own rebound and putting it behind the ‘Rays goalie. But with 1:40 left in
the first period, Brent Stern would take a cross-checking penalty that would
result in the tying goal (scored by ‘Rays Austin Fyten).
The score would go unchanged
until the third period.
The Nailers came out in
the third period with their pants on fire. After a Jeff Burton tie-breaker, the
Nailers cranked up the NOS and never looked in the rear view. Kwas and Loney
would score shortly after, nailing down the victory, the conference
championship, and a trip to play for the Kelly Cup.
“Pure resiliency. The East
is ours, I guess. Unbelievable group of guys. That locker room, you can’t beat
it”. – Riley Brace
The Nailers will now face
the defending ECHL Champions, the Allen Americans (an affiliate of the San Jose
The reaction from the
Nailers fan base as well as their own players took over social media. #NailItDown
was trending on Twitter and NBC Sports even acknowledged the win during the
Pittsburgh Penguins Game 6 broadcast.
Having won on the road,
the team made their way back to Wheeling and received a hero’s welcome from
Nailer Nation as they pulled into WesBanco Arena. Cheers of support and celebration
filled the streets as the team made their way off the bus, hugging fans and
slapping high 5’s all the way.
One more series remains. A
series that will begin on the road. This team has proven, above anything else
that they deserve to be playing for the championship. Four wins remain.
Congratulations to the
Wheeling Nailers. Go get that Cup. And for a special treat, here is the (un)official Wheeling Nailers theme/fight song for you all to have stuck in your heads the remainder of the day. Here is "Shane Washes On":