Nailers Coach Donatelli Not Happy With Effort
WHEELING – Two weeks into the season and Wheeling Nailers coach Clark Donatelli has had enough of what he perceives to be a lack of effort nearly across the board.
Donatelli, in his first year leading the team in an official capacity, concedes that last weekend when the Nailers played – and lost – three games in three days, was the first time many of his players had had to endure such a scenario. The honeymoon though, is finished.
”There’s absolutely guys not bringing it every night,” Donatelli said following practice Tuesday at Wheeling Park Memorial Ice Rink. ”The reality is, you are in the (ECHL) and you have to play hard.
”We’re not going to be waiting around for guys to start playing well. You’ve got to get over the fact you’re in the (ECHL).”
That, the coach hopes, will begin at 7 on Friday night when Wheeling opens the home portion of its schedule by playing host to Reading at WesBanco Arena. The same two teams will meet at the same time, same place Saturday night.
The Nailers were outscored 12-2 last weekend, with a pair of losses coming against Elmira and the other to the Royals. Four winless games into the season, Wheeling already finds itself seven points behind the Atlantic Division-leading Jackals.
”We’ve got two games this weekend and everyone better be (busting their tails). They’re playing for ice time,” Donatelli said. ”We’re going to be meeting with every single guy on the team as individuals, then we’ll meet together as a team again to discuss their roles and how they will get to the American Hockey League.
”We’re going to disillusion all these guys. If they think they’re going to go up and be a top-six guy, no you’re not. You’re going to go up and be a hard-to-play-against penalty killer, a checking guy.
”We’re going to identify everybody’s roles so there is no disillusion of how you’re going to play.
”If you’re not going to accept your role, then we have problems and we’ll go from there.”
The Nailers are having definite trouble on special teams. Their penalty kill ranks next-to-last at 69.2 percent (eight goals, 26 attempts) and the power play is also 22 out of 23 at 4.8 percent (1-for-21).
”A lot of guys, from their standpoint, it’s going to take them a while to get used to this. They’ve never played 20-25 minutes,” Donatelli said. ”We’ve got to minimize the mistakes. We’ve got to talk and communicate.
”It’s the effort. It’s about doing your job and holding each other accountable for what you’re doing.”
Donatelli hopes the return of Chris Barton, last season’s leading scorer, from an elbow injury will help jumpstart an offense that has produced four goals in as many games and has been shut out twice. He’d also like to see some more leadership from the holdovers from last season.
”Ultimately it’s going to come from Peter Merth, (Paul) Crowder, Barton, (Zack) Torquato and (Cody) Chupp,” Donatelli said. ”They’ve got to step their game up. There’s no excuses for those guys not scoring any points.
”They’ve gotten some chances, sure, but they can play a helluva lot better and they know it. We need our core group of guys, our leaders, to start leading. There’s no doubt about it.”
Donatelli said he was happier with the effort Sunday in Reading, but nowhere near satisfied.
Alternate captain Ben Farrer will not be in the lineup this weekend as he deals with the effects of a hit by Elmira’s Kevin Harvey. … Patrick Killeen will start in net Friday night for the Nailers. … With the injuries to Barton and Farrer and the call-ups of Dominik Uher and Tom Kuhnhackl, Wheeling played with nine forwards for the majority of last weekend.