WHEELING - Throughout the hockey world you can find countless stories about moms and dads scraping the ice off their car windows in the early morning hours, just so they can get their kids to hockey practice. For the third straight season, the Wheeling Nailers are getting into the pre-noon act.
Wednesday at 11 a.m., the Nailers will welcome more than 1,500 kids - that was of Monday - to WesBanco Arena as part of the third annual Educational Field Trip Day. Children from Wheeling Country Day, Warwood Elementary, Bridge Street Middle School, Madison Elementary, the American Spirit Academy, Sherrard Middle School and the Ohio High School Virtual Academy will be on hand to watch the Nailers tangle with the Greenville Road Warriors for the second time in 16 hours.
''We enjoy hosting all the students each year for this special game,'' Wheeling vice president Craig Bommer said. ''We hope they enjoy the game.''
And naturally, the Nailers hope they come back. When you think about it, it's a genius move by the organization getting children who may not otherwise attend a game into the building, for they are potential season ticket holders down the road.
''It's a great day for the kids to get out and get introduced to the game of hockey,'' Wheeling coach Clark Donatelli said.
It's not all fun and games, however. There are various educational opportunities that in one way or another involve the game of hockey planned. In the past that has included activities dealing with the subjects of Language Arts and Spelling, Geography, Math and Wellness.
What they'll see on the ice is a team that is 5-3-2 in its last 10 and earned back-to-back victories Saturday and Sunday against Fort Wayne and Evansville, respectively. Wheeling averaged five goals a game, winning the first in overtime after twice erasing one-goal deficits.
The Nailers are still last in the American Conference with 21 points, but have played at least one less game, and in some cases as many as six less, than each club. Wheeling is in the middle of playing eight games in 11 days, including six straight at home, and has won two of the first four.
''Our home record's definitely a lot better than our road record, so it's good to start off with a win,'' Paul Crowder said following Saturday night's victory.
That's true. Wheeling is 7-2-3 at home, and 1-8-2 away from WesBanco Arena.
''Let's call a spade a spade,'' Donatelli said. ''We've got one win on the road, so yeah, it's good to have these games at home.''
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net