Nailers Exorcise the Demons in Kalamazoo
Claeys Stops 30, as Wheeling Ends 11-Game Skid in Michigan
KALAMAZOO, MI- It had been five years and six days since the Wheeling Nailers last got to celebrate a victory at Wings Event Center, but the 2021-22 team made sure that slump came to an end on Wednesday night. Nick Hutchison netted a pair of power-play goals and Brody Claeys turned in an excellent 30-save performance, as Wheeling collected the 4-1 road win.
The Nailers netted the lone goal of the opening stanza at the 12:05 mark. Sean Josling won a puck battle in the left corner and delivered a pass to Tim Doherty in the left circle. Doherty's initial attempt got denied, but Justin Almeida snagged the rebound and returned the puck to Doherty, who potted his second chance into the left side of the cage.
The second period was even better for Wheeling, as the visitors added a pair of goals to their lead. The first marker came off of a Kalamazoo turnover, as a missed pass ended up leading Justin Almeida and Bobby Hampton on an odd-man rush. The first break didn't convert, but the Nailers continued to battle, as Almeida whacked a loose puck out to Jesse Lees, who lifted the puck over the fallen Wings netminder. Wheeling's power play put the next strike on the board, as some speedy puck movement resulted in Josh Maniscalco sending a shot through from the left point. His try got stopped, but Nick Hutchison was right there on the doorstep to punch in the rebound.
Denis Smirnov delivered a minor blip on Wheeling's radar with a redirection goal at the 7:01 mark of the third period, but Hutchison put the match away with his second man advantage marker of the night. He flipped the rebound of his original shot into the top-left corner of the goal, as the Nailers were victorious, 4-1.
Brody Claeys was spectacular between the pipes for Wheeling, as he blocked away 30 of the 31 shots he faced for the win. Trevor Gorsuch had a busy night for Kalamazoo, as he made 33 saves on 37 shots in the loss.
The Nailers will play the remainder of the week at home, starting with a Frosty Friday against the Atlanta Gladiators at 7:10. Then, Saturday night is Pittsburgh Penguins Night, when fans can get their picture taken with the Stanley Cup. The Nailers will also be wearing specialty jerseys, plus mascots Iceburgh and Tux will be part of the festivities. Face-off that night also takes place at 7:10, as Wheeling faces the Fort Wayne Komets. Season memberships, single-game tickets, and partial packages are available, and fans can get more information by calling (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.