WHEELING - One look at the ECHL standings tells you Wheeling's games this weekend with Florida will be stark contrasts in styles. The Everblades and former Voice of the Nailers Alex Reed will be at WesBanco Arena on Friday and Saturday nights for a pair of 7:05 p.m. games.
Both clubs are trying to find their way out of early holes - Wheeling is last in the conference and the Everblades eighth - and are doing so in dramatically different fashions. Wheeling is getting it done with defense (29 less goals allowed) while Florida prefers an offensive game (38 more goals scored).
In fact, it seems to be a divisional thing as the South appears to be much more offensive than the Atlantic to this point.
The visits by the Everblades will coincide with a couple of busy nights for the organization. According to the Director of Broadcasting D.J. Abisalih, Friday night will feature the annual Teddy Bear toss and is Military Appreciation Night. In addition, Pittsburgh Penguins mascot 'Iceburgh' and the team's Ice Crew will be on hand to provide entertainment.
Fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently used teddy bear or stuffed animal to the game, which they will then throw onto the ice after the Nailers score their first goal. The stuffed animals will be donated to children in the area for the holidays, following the contest. Although the team encourages fans to throw the stuffed animals onto the ice, if they have a large amount, they may take those to the Wheeling Nailers office, located at 1315 Main Street.
''This is probably my favorite game of the year'' Nailers Vice President Craig Bommer said. ''We are shooting for 4,000 stuffed animals in an effort to help local children during the holidays.''
As far as Military Appreciation, all personnel will receive a free hat and a ticket for just $13.
Saturday will be Boy Scout Night and the first 2,500 fans through the gates receive Thundersticks.
The Hamilton Bulldogs sent 21-year-old right winger Alain Berger and defenseman Joe Stejskal to Wheeling on Tuesday.
Berger spent nine games with the Bulldogs and did not register a point. Stejskal had an assist in nine games earlier this season with the Nailers.
Meandwhile up in the AHL, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins officially signed former Nailer Bobby Farnham to a contract. Farnham had four points (3g-1a) in nine games with Wheeling and had two assists in his first 11 games with the Penguins. Farnham has 97 combined penalty minutes in 20 games.
Around the ECHL
Weekly awards were handed out Tuesday with Utah's Brad Mills and South Carolina's Ryan Zapolski taking top honors.
Mills is the Sher-Wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for Nov. 26-Dec. 2 after scoring three goals and adding three assists for six points, helping the Grizzlies to a 2-0-0 record. The 29-year-old tallied four points (2g-2a) and was a plus-2 in a 7-4 victory against San Francisco on Friday and then registered two points (1g-1a) in a 3-2 victory against the Bulls on Saturday.
Zapolski is the Reebok Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week. He also won the award for the week ending March 11, 2012.
The 26-year-old went 2-0-0 with one shutout, a 1.00 goals-against average and a save percentage of .968 in two appearances last week. Zapolski made 26 saves in a 3-2 victory against Reading on Friday and followed that up with 34 saves in a 2-0 victory against Gwinnett on Saturday.
The Nailers' Scott Darling (2-0-0, 2.00 GAA, .933 save pct.) was named one of two runner-ups.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net