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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nailing It Down by @Medina_Marie17

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 underdog.

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 Sharks).

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":

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