CORAVILLE, IA- The Wheeling Nailers and Iowa Heartlanders played their highest scoring game of the weekend on Sunday afternoon at Xtream Arena, and despite a late scare to take the game to overtime, the Nailers came out on top. Bobby Hampton was the hero for Wheeling, as he zipped in a shot from the left side of the slot for the 5-4 win. Cédric Desruisseaux netted a pair of goals in the victory as well, while Cam Hausinger and Gianluca Esteves posted multi-point efforts.
The first period is exactly what the Nailers needed, as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The opening tally came 3:15 into the contest, as Cam Hausinger started the play by wrapping the puck into the left side of the crease. Cédric Desrussieaux followed up his teammate by continuing to jam at the puck, which eventually dribbled in over the line. Wheeling added to its advantage off of a rush with 7:33 remaining. Desruisseaux led Hausinger in on the right side of the slot, where he slid a shot under Darion Hanson.
The Nailers maintained their two-goal edge in the middle frame, as both sides turned on the red light twice. Iowa got on the board on a power play at the 3:02 mark, when Tanner MacMaster delivered a pass from circle to circle, as James Sanchez roofed a wrist shot on the left side. Wheeling answered back 1:50 later, as the visitors beat out an icing race, which allowed Bobby Hampton to set up Desruisseaux for a wide open shot from along the right side of the goal line. Former Heartlander T.J. Fergus helped create the fourth Nailers goal, when he sauced a wrist shot on goal from high in the zone. Luke Santerno and Brooklyn Kalmikov took a couple of whacks at the loose disk, before Gianluca Esteves ultimately lifted it up and over Corbin Kaczperski. Steven Leonard trimmed Wheeling's lead to two, when he used his backhand to shovel in the rebound of Carson Denomie's shot.
Iowa didn't go away quietly, as the home side produced a 13-6 advantage in shots in the third, and potted a pair of goals to even the score at four. With 4:19 left, Michael Pastujov's left circle shot got padded away, but Kevin McKernan crashed in to deposit the rebound. The Heartlanders then got a favorable bounce from their home rink, as Justin Wells' shot whistled wide of the net, but the rebound went right to Brendan Robbins for a tap-in on the right side to force overtime with 2:51 on the clock.
The Nailers got four big saves in the extra session from Bailey Brkin, then rewarded their netminder at the 6:03 mark. A loose puck bounced its way to Bobby Hampton on the left side of the slot. Hampton immediately fired a dart through Kaczperski and into the left side of the cage for the 5-4 Wheeling overtime triumph.
Bailey Brkin earned the victory for the Nailers, as he denied 32 of the 36 shots he faced. Corbin Kaczperski took the overtime loss, as he made 13 saves on 15 shots in relief of Darion Hanson, who gave up three goals on eight shots.
The Nailers will return home next weekend for a three-game series against the Norfolk Admirals on Friday at 7:10, Saturday at 7:10, and Sunday at 4:10. The Friday game is a Frosty Friday with $2 beers, the Saturday game is First Responders Night, and the Sunday game will feature a post game skate. The next Big 6 Promotional Night is Country Night on Saturday, March 11th, featuring a live post game concert by Jonathan Moody. Ticket packages 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.