WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers had a terrific start on Friday night at WesBanco Arena, as they looked to shake the troubles that plagued them in the month of March. Unfortunately, the Indy Fuel haven't been going away quietly, and they were able to erase a two-goal deficit to edge the Nailers, 4-3 in overtime. Seamus Malone netted the OT winner for the second week in a row for the Fuel in the closing seconds, while Bobby Hampton, Patrick Watling, and Jared Cockrell were the Wheeling goal scorers. The Nailers currently have 68 points, as they remain in fifth place in the ECHL's Central Division.
The Nailers came out with loads of energy, as they controlled the first period to a tune of a 14-5 shots advantage, in addition to turning on the red light twice. The first marker came at the 12:07 mark, when David Drake tossed a shot in from the left point. Mitch Gillam made the save, but the rebound went directly to Bobby Hampton, who banged it back in from the left side. 39 seconds later, Wheeling struck again. Cédric Desruisseaux set off a netmouth scramble, which resulted in Luke Bafia teeing up Patrick Watling, who smashed in a one-timer from the right side of the slot.
The middle frame saw a bit of a bumpier road for the home side. Indy's Spencer Watson and Jared Cockrell of the Nailers exchanged goals 2:42 apart from each other in the early stages of the period, as Watson ripped in a right circle wrist shot, while Cockrell got the netminder to bite on a fake, before shoveling a shot upstairs on the right side. However, the Fuel battled back to tie the score with a pair of markers in the final minute. Jared Thomas ramped a shot off of a defending stick to send it floating in from the left side. Moments later, Cockrell nearly regained Wheeling's two-goal lead, when his backhander hit off the left post. Unfortunately, the play went in the other direction. and Karl El-Mir snapped in a wrist shot from the right circle.
The Nailers poured on the pressure in the third, as they outshot Indy, 15-6, but were unable to snap the deadlock, as the two squads went to overtime. Wheeling nearly went to its first shootout of the campaign, but with 17 seconds left in the extra session, Seamus Malone flew to the goal, and flipped a forehand shot into the top-right corner for the 4-3 Fuel victory.
Mitch Gillam backstopped the win for Indy, as he thwarted 34 of the 37 shots he faced, including all 16 in the third period and overtime. Louis-Philip Guindon received the overtime defeat, as he made 22 saves on 26 shots.
The Nailers will have Saturday off, then return to action on Sunday at 4:10 against the Fort Wayne Komets in a game which will feature a post game skate with odd-numbered players. 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.