WHEELING, WV- Three periods of hockey weren't enough to decide game four of the Central Division Semifinal Series between the Wheeling Nailers and Fort Wayne Komets at WesBanco Arena on Friday night. The Nailers battled back from a 3-1 deficit on Cam Hausinger's second goal of the night and Josh Maniscalco's equalizer, but Fort Wayne's Mark Rassell popped in the rebound of Kellen Jones' initial shot, as the Komets pulled away with the 4-3 win, which tied the best-of-seven set, 2-2.
The shots on goal in Friday's first period looked much better than Wednesday, but unfortunately, the Nailers arrived at the end of the stanza trailing by one. Fort Wayne got on the board first with a man advantage marker. Anthony Petruzzelli shuffled the puck to the top of the crease, where a shot was tapped in on the left side by Mark Rassell. Wheeling temporarily evened things up at the 12:03 mark. Josh Maniscalco willed a shot on goal which was stopped by Samuel Harvey. However, the rebound kicked out to Cam Hausinger, who sifted a shot under the netminder and into the net. The Komets regained the lead with 4:13 remaining. The Nailers turned the puck over in the offensive zone, which led to an Oliver Cooper breakaway. Cooper put the puck on his backhand, and was able to reach around Louis-Philip Guindon to slide the puck past his left skate.
Neither side scored in the middle frame, but the offenses returned in the third. Fort Wayne went ahead by two at the 56-second mark, as Will Graber snuck into the left circle, and drove in a one-timer, which was fed to him through the slot by Kellen Jones. Wheeling got some momentum in its favor with a successful penalty, which was followed by a goal. Maniscalco sent a shot in from the slot, which produced a rebound. Once again, Hausinger brought his lunch pail to the crease, as he slammed in the loose puck for his second of the night and fourth of the series. 5:11 later, the Nailers tied the score on a two-man advantage. Hausinger won the face-off back to Justin Almeida, who immediately fed Josh Maniscalco for a cannon of a one-timer from the top of the left circle.
The two clubs proceeded to overtime, which got decided in favor of the road side. Kellen Jones tossed a shot in on goal, which was stopped, but the rebound came out to Mark Rassell, who sent it back in to give the Komets the 4-3 win.
Samuel Harvey collected the victory in goal for Fort Wayne, as he stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced. Louis-Philip Guindon suffered the defeat for Wheeling, as he made 23 saves on 27 shots.
The Nailers and Komets will play game five of the Central Division Semifinal Series at WesBanco Arena on Saturday night at 7:10. Every fan in attendance will receive a free rally towel. The Nailers want you to join #NailersArmy and get your playoff tickets now by visiting wheelingnailers.com or by calling (304) 234-GOAL.