Nailers Earn Comeback Win in Wichita
Wheeling Scores Four in the Third in a Game They Trailed by Four with a 90-Minute Delay
WICHITA, KS- Saturday night at INTRUST Bank Arena can be filed into the category of improbable, but extremely sweet. The Wheeling Nailers trailed the Wichita Thunder, 4-0, after 11:04 was played, but weren't about to look toward the bus ride home yet. After a 90-minute ice delay, the Nailers found their game in a big way, scoring four goals in the third period to stun the Thunder, 6-5, and earn four points on their season-opening four-game road trip. Sean Josling and Justin Almeida both scored twice in the third-period comeback.
The first period was a rough one for the Nailers, as Wichita came out to a flying start. Peter Crinella put the home team on the scoreboard 2:03 into the contest when he squirted a wrist shot through from just below the right circle. At the 8:40 mark, Matt Alfaro laid out Stephen Johnson with a punishing check, but at the same time, Matteo Gennaro slid a wrist shot home to put the Thunder up by two. The hit resulted in a five-minute Wichita power play, which turned into two more goals, as Crinella connected for his second off of a left side one-timer before Dean Stewart found the net with a seeing-eyed wrister. Patrick Watling got one marker back for Wheeling while the team was playing shorthanded, as he hammered in a one-time feed from Sean Josling in the right circle. In addition to Alfaro tangling with Brayden Watts after the hit, the opening stanza featured another fight early on, as Shaw Boomhower threw down with Sean Allen.
The Nailers continued to work towards bouncing back in the middle frame, and they pulled within two at the 4:32 mark. Dylan MacPherson let a wrist shot go from the blue line, which was tipped down and into the cage by Nick Hutchison. Later in the period, the Thunder answered off the rush, led by former Nailer Brady Fleurent, and eventually resulted in Stewart feeding Carter Johnson for a one-timer in the slot.
With 1:34 remaining in the second period, there was a hole in the ice, which caused a delay of approximately 90 minutes. The delay ended up working in Wheeling's favor in a big way, as the visitors exploded in the third period.
The comeback began at the 1:45 mark. Watling fired in a shot from the left point, which was tipped into the net by Josling. Then, at 7:12, Justin Almeida picked up Cam Hausinger's shot off the end boards and tucked it into the right side of the goal. Almeida struck again 2:09 later, as he capitalized off a Wichita turnover and tossed a shot into an open left side of the twine. With less than four minutes to go, the Nailers got a power play, and scored their biggest goal of the early season. Josh Maniscalco took a wrist shot from the point, and Josling ramped a deflection into the top corner to put Wheeling ahead 6-5 in a game they trailed by as many as four. That surge was plenty to get the game to its conclusion, as the Nailers were victorious by that 6-5 final.
Tommy Nappier was phenomenal in relief for Wheeling, as he earned the win, making 18 saves on 19 shots after Alex D'Orio surrendered four goals on eight shots. Evan Buitenhuis was the losing goaltender for the Thunder, as he allowed six goals on 44 shots.
Next up for the Nailers is their first home game of the 2021-22 season, which takes place on Saturday, November 6th against the Fort Wayne Komets at 7:10. The game will feature a pregame fanfest and a magnetic schedule giveaway. Season memberships, mini-plans, and single-game tickets 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.