WHEELING, WV- Fans in Wheeling will always talk about the night when Darren Schwartz scored a hat trick in a span of 30 seconds during the team's inaugural season, but on Saturday night, Johnny Daniels gave them a moment that nearly reached that mark. Daniels snapped a 1-1 tie by scoring three times in a span of 57 seconds in the middle frame, putting the Nailers ahead, 4-1. Tyler Currier added two goals in the third period, including the eventual game winner, as Wheeling defeated the Quad City Mallards, 6-4, in front of 4,007 fans at WesBanco Arena.
The two teams exchanged goals in the first period, with the Mallards striking first, and the Nailers coming up with an answer. A collision in center ice led to the development of the Quad City marker, as Grant Arnold skated in alongside Josh MacDonald on a partial 2-on-1 rush. Arnold kept the puck to himself in the left circle, where he lifted a shot into the top-right corner of the net. Wheeling's equalizer came during the final minute, while on the man advantage. Gage Quinney worked the puck around the offensive zone to Nick Sorkin at the right point. Sorkin let a wrist shot go, which was deflected by Cody Wydo. The tip dribbled through Adam Vay's legs and in over the line.
In the second period, Johnny Daniels stole the show for the Nailers, scoring a natural hat trick in a span of 57 seconds. His first tally came at the 11:01 mark, when he tipped in a right circle shot by Tyler Currier, shortly after a Mallards penalty had expired. The next goal came at 11:37. Daniels wheeled around the back of the cage, had his first shot blocked, but followed it up by roofing a wrist shot. 21 seconds after that, the hat trick was completed, as Wydo teed up a one-timer for Daniels from the left circle. Quad City made the remainder of the stanza interesting, responding with two goals of its own. Justin Kovacs set up Sam Warning for a one-timer, which was drilled in from the left circle to trim the margin to two. Then, with 2:55 left, Chris Francis stickhandled in the right circle, opening up space to plant a shot in the left side of the twine for a 4-3 Wheeling lead after two.
The scoring slowed down for a bit in the third period, before the Nailers added to their advantage. With 6:06 to go, Brett Stern let a shot go from the left point, which was stopped by Vay. However, the rebound kicked out to Tyler Currier, who deposited it into the net. The Mallards pulled back to within one on a redirection goal by Justin Kovacs off of a Mike Wilson attempt, but Currier's second strike of the frame went into an empty net and put the wraps on the 6-4 victory.
Doug Carr got the win for Wheeling, making 22 saves on 26 shots. Adam Vay took the loss for Quad City, giving up five goals on 25 shots.
The Nailers will finish off their three-game weekend on Sunday at 5:05 against the Toledo Walleye. That will be a Family Funday, featuring $6 kids tickets and a post game skate with the team. Later in the month, on March 25th, it will be Nailers Fight Cancer Night, benefiting the Team Ryan Charitable Foundation. The Nailers will wear special jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game. Additionally, there will be a trading card set giveaway, and a full team autograph session. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.