The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, announce their schedule for the 2014-15 regular season. The schedule features 14 different opponents, while 30 of the team's 36 home games will be played on weekends.
The schedule will give Wheeling fans a chance to see a more variety of teams at WesBanco Arena, while also keeping some of the more popular rivalries at a high number. The Nailers' most frequent opponent is the Elmira Jackals, whom they will face on 14 occasions (7 home, 7 away), while the Reading Royals appear on the docket 12 times (6 home, 6 away). Two clubs will make their first ever visits to the Ohio Valley, as Wheeling drops the puck with the expansion Indianapolis Fuel four times (2 home, 2 away), while also battling the Western Conference's Utah Grizzlies twice (both home).
The two biggest differences in the schedule come from the Cincinnati Cyclones, whose season series shrinks from 12 games to four, as well as the South Division, whose game total rises from nine to 16.
The Nailers are looking into the best interest of the fans when it comes to dates and times. Thirty of the team's 36 home games will be played on weekends, with 13 Fridays, 11 Saturdays and six Sundays on the agenda for 2014-15.
With the exception of Feb. 7 (8:05 p.m.), all Friday and Saturday home games will start at 7:35 p.m., while all Sunday games except Dec. 14 (5:05 p.m.) will begin at 4:05 p.m.. Wheeling will also have two midweek day games, as the puck will drop at 10:35 a.m. on Nov. 19 and at 1:05 p.m. on Feb. 16.
The regular season will begin at home for the second consecutive year, as the Nailers will tangle with the Reading Royals on Saturday, Oct. 18. That turns out to be the lone home game in October, as the squad will find itself on the road in Gwinnett and South Carolina the following weekend and before playing the road half of a home-and-home series in Reading to close out the month.
Nov. 1 is the other half of that series against the Royals, as well as the first of only two divisional home games in the second month. Indianapolis makes its first trip to Wheeling on the ninth, followed by the second ever home game against the Orlando Solar Bears five days later.
Following a morning clash with Elmira on Nov. 19, the Nailers will play all of Thanksgiving week at home, beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 26 against Greenville, and concluding with a Friday-Saturday weekend series against Florida on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29.
Utah kicks off December's slate, as the Grizzlies will make their first visits on the fifth and sixth. Aside from October and April, the third month of the campaign serves as Wheeling's smallest at home, as only six games take place at WesBanco Arena in December. The other four occur on Dec. 10, 14, 19 and 20, including a two-game series with the Road Warriors to put a bow on the pre-holiday portion of the schedule.
After the break, the Nailers will make their way to the South Division for two games against the Stingrays and one against the Gladiators on Dec. 27, 28 and 29. For the first time in team history (third time at home), there will not be a game on New Year's Eve.
The busiest month of the season will be January, when Wheeling will take the ice 14 times. Nine of those tilts will take place on enemy ice, which will also serve as a season-high. The five home contests take place during two separate weekends, as the Nailers will face Reading, Elmira and Indianapolis on Jan. 9, 10 and 11, before a two-game visit by the Fort Wayne Komets on the Jan. 23 and Jan. 24. In between those two weeks, Wheeling heads to the Sunshine State, where it will play two games against the Everblades on the Jan. 14 and Jan. 16 and one against the Solar Bears on the 17th, prior to the ECHL All-Star Game at Amway Center on the Jan. 21.
February and March will both be packed with home games, as 15 of the 24 contests during those two months will be held in the Ohio Valley. Rivalry games highlight the majority of February, which begins with a three-game weekend against Toledo, Cincinnati, and Elmira on the 6th, 7th, and 8th. After a visit from Reading on the Feb. 13, the Jackals return for the day game on the Feb. 16, before another meeting on the 27th. The shortest month of the calendar year ends with the fourth of five home games against Greenville on the 28th.
March begins the same way February ends, as the Nailers and Road Warriors will do battle again on Feb. 1, finishing off a weekend series. Following a three-game trip to Indiana (Indianapolis, Evansville), Wheeling will conclude March by playing seven of nine games on home ice. Four of those tilts will take place in a five-day span, as Toledo, Fort Wayne, Reading, and Cincinnati come to town on the 25th, 27th, 28th, and 29th. March is the busiest month for the Nailers at WesBanco Arena, as they will play eight of 13 games in their own backyard.
For the second straight year, the regular season will come to an end in April, featuring six games in the final month. Only two of those games will be at home, as Evansville makes its lone trip in on April 3, before the regular season home finale on the 10th against Elmira. The Nailers and Jackals will finish the campaign in Elmira on the April 11.
Season tickets are available for the 2014-15 regular season - the 23rd season of hockey in Wheeling - by calling 304-234-4625. Tickets start as low as $10 for adults and $8 for kids.