WHEELING, WV- Saturday night's game between the Wheeling Nailers and Indy Fuel at WesBanco Arena had more twists and turns than a roller coaster. Both teams had a lead during the final five minutes of regulation, which included a goal each way during the final minute, as overtime was necessary to determine a winner. Unfortunately, a too many men on the ice penalty cost the Nailers, as they came up short, 5-4. Seamus Malone scored the tying and winning goals for Indy, while Patrick Watling posted a four-point night for Wheeling.
The game got off to a slow start, as the two sides combined for just 11 shots on goal in the first period, which ended in a 0-0 draw. The offenses started to come together in the middle frame, as visiting Indy put the first marker on the board. Christopher Cameron gathered in the puck at the right point, and took advantage of traffic in the slot, as he slammed a slap shot in along the ice. The Nailers pulled even 2:57 later. Sam Houde forced a turnover at the defensive blueline, which led to a 2-on-1 rush for Patrick Watling and Matt Alfaro. Watling delivered a perfect pass through the slot, which was drilled home by Alfaro on the one-timer. With 3:14 remaining in the stanza, the Fuel went back on top. Spencer Watson drove in a slap shot from the top of the right circle during Indy's first power play of the night.
The third period was wild. It started somewhat calmly, as Wheeling tied things up on a man advantage at the 3:12 mark. Josh Maniscalco dribbled a pass to Patrick Watling, who lifted a shot into the top-left corner, with goaltender Tom Aubrun stuck on his stick side post. The goal was originally disallowed, but reviewed and overturned. The Nailers had a chance to take a late lead with a two-man advantage, but the first penalized player to exit the box was Jared Thomas, who took a breakaway pass from Bryan Lemos, and shoveled a wrist shot into the top-right corner. Wheeling rebounded to tie the tilt with 2:31 left. Justin Almeida dropped a pass off to Adam Smith, who stepped up and blazed in a wrist shot from the left circle. With 30.1 seconds remaining, the Nailers took their first lead of the night. The puck bounced to Jared Cockrell in the slot, who turned and chipped a shot into the top-left corner of the net. Indy didn't go away quietly, and with just over 12 seconds to go, Seamus Malone had his shot bounce its way into the cage for a 4-4 score at the end of regulation.
Early in overtime, Wheeling got unlucky, as the home squad was whistled for too many men on the ice. That gave the Fuel a 4-on-3 man advantage, and they cashed in. Seamus Malone rifled in a one-time feed from Jared Thomas in the right circle to give Indy the 5-4 victory.
Tom Aubrun got the win for the Fuel, as he stopped 28 of the 32 shots he faced. Louis-Philip Guindon received the overtime defeat, as he made 25 saves on 30 shots.
The Nailers will play their next two games in Fort Wayne on Sunday at 5:00 and Wednesday at 7:30. Wheeling will then play two home games next weekend. Friday, April 1st is a Frosty Friday at 7:10 against the Indy Fuel, then Sunday April 3rd against the Fort Wayne Komets at 4:10 features a post game skate. A couple of notable upcoming promotions include April 9th, when the Kelly Cup comes to WesBanco Arena, and April 15th, which is Fan Appreciation Night. 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.