FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers closed out the 2017-18 in thrilling fashion, with an explosive offensive effort against the Fort Wayne Komets at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Wheeling scored four times in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie, and seven different players turned on the red light, as the Nailers were victorious 7-3, finishing the year with a 35-28-9 record, good for 79 points.
The Nailers surrendered an early goal, but rebounded with a pair of strikes to take a lead into the intermission. Fort Wayne's opening tally came on the power play at the 3:34 mark. Quick puck movement resulted in Ryan Lowney setting up Gabriel Desjardins, who fired in a laser from the slot. Wheeling knotted things up at the 10:34 mark, when Reid Gardiner battled his way through a defender, before roofing in his team-leading 30th goal of the year. A little more than three minutes later, Matt Abt sprung Freddie Tiffels, who led a 2-on-1 rush down the right side, which he finished by drilling in a shot from the circle.
The start of the second period saw two goals scored in eight seconds. First on the board were the Komets. Gabriel Desjardins launched a pass across to Phelix Martineau, who set up Dennis Kravchenko at the left face-off dot. The Nailers responded immediately, as Nick Sorkin charged down the right side, burying a shot from the circle. Shortly before the midway mark of the frame, Fort Wayne got the equalizer, when Anthony Petruzzelli was stopped on a breakaway, but was able to muscle the rebound out of Adam Morrison's pads and in over the goal line.
Wheeling ended its season with an exclamation point, lighting the lamp four times in the third period. The eventual winning goal came on a two-man advantage at the 1:07 mark, when Cam Brown tipped in Gardiner's shot from the left side. Less than three minutes later, former Komet Louick Marcotte burned his old team, finishing off a rush with Brown, tapping in a backhander on the left side. Riley Bourbonnais threaded in a one-timer from the left circle, before Sorkin set up Troy Josephs, giving Sorkin his team-leading 58th point of the campaign and a 7-3 triumph for the Nailers.
Adam Morrison earned the win for Wheeling, making 31 saves on 34 shots. Garrett Bartus got slapped with the loss, giving up seven goals on 35 shots.
The Wheeling Nailers would like to thank everyone for all of their fantastic support during the 2017-18 season, and are looking forward to the 27th season of hockey in Wheeling in the fall. For information about 2018-19 season tickets, call (304) 234-GOAL.