CORALVILLE, IA- The Wheeling Nailers could have used a few of their goals from last Saturday's thumping of the Norfolk Admirals on Friday night, as they opened a three-game series against the Iowa Heartlanders at Xtream Arena. The contest started with a bang, as there were two fights in the first six minutes. However, the Nailers fell behind, and were unable to recover, as they came out on the short end of a 5-1 result. Brooklyn Kalmikov was the lone goal scorer for Wheeling.
The game got off to a wild start, as the gloves went flying right off the opening face-off between Wheeling's Cam Hausinger and Iowa's Steven Leonard. Five minutes later, more punches were thrown, and most of them came from Félix Paré, who fed Justin Wells with an onslaught of rights. A third fight nearly took place 1:08 after that, but the temperatures got quieted by a large scrum. There was one goal in the first period, and that went to the Heartlanders, who also enjoyed a 14-3 advantage in shots. Yuki Miura grabbed a loose puck behind the goal, and centered a pass to Tanner MacMaster, who wired a one-timer into the right side of the cage.
The Nailers did a better job of generating chances in the middle frame, but an early strike on the other side put them behind by two. Iowa was able to keep possession in the midst of a line change, and that ultimately led to the goal, as Tyler Busch delivered a pass to the left side of the crease, where he connected with Michael Pastujov for a redirection from the left side of the crease.
Brooklyn Kalmikov put Wheeling on the board at the 2:14 mark of the third, when Gianluca Esteves' pass bounced out to him in the left side of the slot, where he tossed in a wrist shot. Unfortunately, the Nailers were unable to find a tying goal, and the Heartlanders put the match away in the final five minutes. Pastujov sent Busch on a breakaway with 4:04 to go, which he converted by sifting a backhander through Brad Barone's legs. Steven Leonard then tacked on two more - one into an empty net, and another on the rebound of Zach White's initial shot for a 5-1 final score.
Hunter Jones picked up the win for Iowa, as he blocked away 23 of the 24 shots he faced. Brad Barone suffered the defeat for Wheeling, as he made 25 saves on 29 shots.
The Nailers and Heartlanders will continue their series on Saturday at 8:05, then wrap up the weekend on Sunday at 3:05. Wheeling will then return home for three games against the Norfolk Admirals on Friday, February 24th, Saturday, February 25th, and Sunday, February 26th. 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. 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.