Nailers Spike Toledo, 7-2
TOLEDO, OH- The Wheeling Nailers are one of two visiting teams that have won inside Huntington Center this season, and on Saturday night, they did what no other visitor has - won twice. Wheeling got great goaltending early from Brody Claeys, then turned up the offense in a big way, as they racked up a 7-2 triumph over the Toledo Walleye. Tim Doherty was the lone multi-goal scorer, while Nick Hutchison topped the points department with four, as the Nailers took two of three games on their Ohio road journey.
The two sides exchanged goals less than one minute apart during the opening stanza. Toledo was first on the board at the 12:31 mark, when Brandon Schultz picked off a pass in the slot, then proceeded to rip a wrist shot into the right side of the cage. The Nailers answered 46 seconds later, as Nick Hutchison worked the puck into the middle of the ice for Bobby Hampton, who turned a roofed a wrist shot into the top-left corner of the net.
Wheeling had a big second period, as it scored twice to take the lead. At the 5:51 mark, Cam Hough dragged the puck deep behind the goal, where Brandon Saigeon was able to rake the puck to the top of the crease. Tyler Drevitch stepped up and lifted a shot up and under the crossbar. Less than three minutes after that, the Nailers struck again off of a rush, which started in the defensive zone. Justin Almeida led Adam Smith into the left side of the slot, where he drove a shot into the left side of the cage.
The Nailers kept the foot on the gas pedal in the third period to drive home the victory. A beautiful three-way passing play by Chris Ortiz, Nick Hutchison, and Tim Doherty led to Wheeling's fourth goal, with Doherty getting rewarded by blazing in a one-timer from the right circle. Brandon Hawkins got one goal back for the Walleye, before Nick Hutchison shaked, baked, and tossed in a backhander with 6:28 remaining. Then, in the final minutes, after a bit of craziness led to back-to-back Toledo penalties, the Nailers made sure to make the hosts pay, as Almeida and Doherty both connected for power play strikes, leading to a 7-2 final score.
Brody Claeys was excellent in his first start with Wheeling, as he denied 30 of the 32 shots he faced, including 27 of 28 in the first two periods when the score was close. Max Milosek was the losing goal for the Walleye, as he gave up seven goals on 26 shots.
The Nailers will return home on Friday night for a Frosty Friday, as they begin a three-game homestand with a 7:10 face-off against the Indy Fuel. Wheeling will also play at home on Saturday at 7:10 against the Iowa Heartlanders, then Sunday at 4:10 against the Cincinnati Cyclones. The next big promotional game is Pittsburgh Penguins Night on Saturday, February 12th, when fans will be able to get their picture taken with the Stanley Cup. The Nailers will also be celebrating the night by wearing specialty jerseys. Season memberships, single game tickets, and partial packages 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.