INDIANAPOLIS, IN- Wednesday's game between the Wheeling Nailers and Indy Fuel at Indiana Farmers Coliseum saw lots of back-and-forth action, with lots of goals and plenty of lead changes. The Nailers rallied back from a two-goal deficit to tie the score in the third period, but Cameron Hillis' one-timer with 9:43 left put Indy ahead for good, as the home team prevailed, 6-4. David Drake netted his first goal in a Wheeling uniform, while Cédric Desruisseaux extended his goal streak to five. The Fuel went 3-for-4 on the power play.
The Nailers brought some great energy to the start of the game, and that energy was rewarded with a 2-1 lead after the first period. The scoring began with a pair of defenders exchanging goals. Wheeling got its opening strike courtesy of David Drake, who completed a nifty self pass from the right point, then swept a low wrist shot in from the right side of the high slot. The Fuel answered exactly one minute later on the power play, when Shane Kuzmeski tossed a center point wrist shot into the top-right corner of the goal. However, with under a minute to go, the Nailers went back on top. Gianluca Esteves and Justin Addamo executed a beautiful 2-on-1 rush, with Esteves making the initial pass, then slamming in the return feed from the left side of the crease.
Indy turned the contest around in the middle frame by utilizing its man advantage on two of three markers. The Fuel's quick-strike power play needed just eight seconds on its second chance to tie the score. Kuzmeski dished the puck over to Alex Wideman, who clocked in a one-timer from the top of the right circle. Indy's go-ahead goal came at even strength. Seamus Malone stole the puck along the left wing wall, then quickly spotted a wide-open Jan Mandát, who buried a shot from the bottom of the left circle. The final goal of the period felt similar to the first one, as the Fuel again utilized just eight seconds of power play time. Spencer Watson spun a pass to Malone along the goal line. Malone crashed the net, and got enough on his jam play to squeeze the puck in over the goal line.
Wheeling had a good response to start the third period, as the visitors rallied back to tie the match in just over five minutes. Sean Josling started the comeback 35 seconds into the stanza, when he roofed the rebound of Cédric Desruisseaux's shot during 4-on-4 play. Then, it was Desruisseaux who knotted the score, when he finished a rush with Adam Smith by swiping in a shot from the left circle. Unfortunately, the comeback was unable to go all the way back to a lead, as Indy went ahead 5-4 with 9:43 remaining. Nate Pionk rode around the back of the net, then centered a pass to a wide-open Cameron Hillis, who slammed in a one-timer from right in front of the net. Chase Lang iced the 6-4 Fuel win, when he split the goal posts on an empty netter from the middle of his own slot.
Zach Driscoll picked up the victory for Indy, as he made 29 saves on 33 shots. Tommy Nappier suffered the loss for the Nailers, despite stopping 31 of the 36 shots he faced.
The Nailers and Fuel will meet up again on Friday at 7:10, when the scene shifts to WesBanco Arena. That night will be a Frosty Friday, featuring $2 beers. Wheeling will make a quick Saturday trip out to Fort Wayne, before another home game on Sunday at 4:10 against the Cincinnati Cyclones. Following that game, fans will have the opportunity to skate with the even-numbered players. Other exciting upcoming promotions include the annual New Year's Eve Game, as well as Wizards & Wands on January 14th. Following that contest, fans will get the chance to skate with the even-numbered players. Season memberships, Big 6 ticket plans, and single game tickets are available for the 2022-23 season by visiting wheelingnailers.com or 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.