Rine: Call-Ups Creating Opportunity

WHEELING – For the Wheeling Nailers, the situation is inevitable.

Sooner or later their American League affiliates in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hamilton, Ontario, are going to come calling for roster replacements. This time it just so happened to take place earlier than normal as on Monday, Wilkes-Barre recalled forwards Denver Manderson and Cody Sylvester, as well as defenseman Dustin Stevenson and goaltender Eric Hartzell, while Hamilton swiped up another forward, Stephen McAulay.

The difference is, Wheeling (6-5-1 – 13) not only has bodies it can use, but is also coming off three victories in as many nights against Elmira to move within one point of Atlantic Division-leading Reading.

”We’ve still got a good nucleus of guys,” Nailers coach Clark Donatelli said, mentioning Max MacKay, Sahir Gill, Chaz Johnson and Zack Torquato, following practice Tuesday at WesBanco Arena. ”It’s good for the guys who got called up. For the most it’s a good opportunity for some of these guys to come in and show what they can do when they get ice time.

”Everyone here is happy because they’re going to get ice time and they will be put in some different situations.”

The Nailers thought they would be getting Peter Mannino to replace Hartzell in goal. However, he was suspended by Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday for failing to report to the ECHL. Mannino, 29, is said to be evaluating his career.

Guys like Ryan Flanigan and Justin Smith will be in the lineup when the team begins a five-game road trip at Reading. Wheeling is at Fort Wayne on Friday and Cincinnati on Saturday, then goes back to face the Cyclones next Wednesday and is at Elmira a week from Friday.

After that though, the Nailers play a season-high nine in a row at home.

”We’ve got five tough games coming up here – all on the road,” Donatelli said. ”We’ve got our hands full, but these guys are confident and they play extremely hard.

”The way we play, we’re up-tempo, we’re hard to play against.

”We’re confident playing against these teams.”

The Nailers are certainly comfortable playing the Jackals, as they’ve been them all four times the teams have faced this season. Wheeling, which had been in a scoring slump all season, broke out with back-to-back five-goal games during the weekend.

”The guys work so hard and the puck finally is going in for them,” Donatelli said. ”They now realize how hard it is to score goals. You’ve got to go to the net with a purpose, go to the hard areas and take a hit.”

Injury Updates

Forward Jack MacLellan went down following a knee-on-knee hit from Elmira’s Matt Carter this weekend and is out at for the foreseeable future.

”As far as Jack, he’s getting his MRI (today),” Donatelli said. ”We already kind of know, but he will probably be out a month.

”Hopefully it’s not anything longer than that.”

Christiaan Minella, who enjoyed a fine start to the season, will be missing for the lineup for at least three weeks. He’s dealing with a nagging hamstring injury that has been bothering him since before training camp.

Defenseman Barry Goers, meanwhile, took part in Tuesday’s practice but was wearing a red, no-contact jersey and remains day-to-day.

Shawn Rine can be reached via email at srine@theintelligencer.net