WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers needed a few extra minutes to decide their game with the Toledo Walleye on Friday night, but in the end, they got the two points they were looking for. Reid Gardiner's second goal of the contest broke a 3-3 tie with 1:48 left in overtime, upping the Nailers season record to 6-1-2. Cody Wydo picked up a goal and an assist, while Hunter Fejes added a tally in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Wheeling and Toledo played to a scoreless first period, before the Nailers grabbed a lead in the middle frame. The first goal came at the 5:54 mark. Hunter Fejes sped down the left side of the ice, getting a step on the defense. When he reached the bottom of the left circle, Fejes found an opening, and lifted a shot over Pat Nagle's right shoulder. 1:45 later, the home team added to its advantage. Jeff Taylor and Cody Wydo drove the puck to the front of the net. A rebound popped into the slot, and was smacked into the cage by Reid Gardiner, who scored a goal for the seventh straight game, and picked up a point in his ninth consecutive contest.
Toledo got its first goal of the night off of a fluke bounce at the 6:43 mark of the third period. Patrick McCarron's shot from the right wall deflected off of a Wheeling skate and into the back of the net. The Nailers temporarily rebuilt their two-goal lead, when Riley Bourbonnais threaded a pass through the slot to Cody Wydo, who tapped home a shot from the left side of the crease. With under three minutes remaining, the Walleye staged a comeback to force overtime. Connor Crisp and Kevin Tansey both lit the lamp with wrist shots from the left circle, knotting the score, 3-3.
At the 3:12 mark of the extra session, Wheeling emerged victorious. Kevin Schulze broke up a rush in his own zone, then turned defense to offense with a 3-on-2 break. Schulze set up Gardiner, who blazed in a shot from the left side of the slot for his league-leading fourth game winner of the year and a 4-3 Nailers triumph.
Sean Maguire got the win in goal for Wheeling, denying 30 of the 33 shots he faced. Pat Nagle took the overtime loss for Toledo, making 26 saves on 30 shots.
The Nailers and Walleye will complete their home-and-home series in Toledo on Saturday night at 7:15. Wheeling's next home game takes place on Sunday at 3:05 against the Norfolk Admirals. McDonald's presents $6 kids tickets, and there will be a post game skate with the team (odd-numbered players). The next big promotional game is Star Wars Night on December 2nd. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.