WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers punctuated their 2016-17 home season with a big exclamation point and loads of excitement for the 4,314 fans in attendance. Riley Bourbonnais scored the team's seventh hat trick of the year and Daniel Leavens registered four points, as the Nailers routed the Kalamazoo Wings, 7-2 at WesBanco Arena.
The game got off to a flying start, as the first period featured three goals and 31 shots. The Nailers needed just 42 seconds to get onto the scoreboard for the first time. Daniel Leavens centered the puck into the left circle for Christian Hilbrich, who roofed a wrist shot into the top-right corner of the cage. A little less than four minutes later, Wheeling added to its advantage. Garrett Meurs and Tyler Currier rushed the puck into the zone, setting up Riley Bourbonnais for a bank shot from the right side of the goal line. Kalamazoo netted its lone goal with 9:24 remaining in the frame. Peter Schneider fished out a loose puck in the slot, sliding it through a pile of bodies and into the back of the net.
The Nailers began the second period with a successful penalty kill, which led to a goal moments later. Kale Kerbashian feathered a pass into the slot for Bourbonnais, who drove in, and buried his second tally of the night into the left side of the goal. The Wings pulled to within one on Lane Scheidl's marker, before Wheeling put its foot down, slamming in two more markers before intermission arrived. Hilbrich used his strength to muscle away defenders, before dishing a pass to the right side of the slot, where a shot was drilled in by Daniel Leavens. With 2:43 left, Meurs added to the lead, stealing a puck on the right side, breaking away, and stashing a shot through Nick Riopel's legs.
Two more goals were added in the third period, as the home team completed its mission. At the 4:30 mark, Kevin Schulze breezed down the left side of the ice, rifling in a slap shot from the top of the circle. Finally, with ten seconds to go, Bourbonnais finished off his hat trick, flipping in a shot from the left side for a 7-2 Nailers win.
Sean Maguire turned in a great goaltending performance for Wheeling, turning aside 36 of the 38 shots he faced in the win. Nick Riopel was the losing netminder for Kalamazoo, as he gave up seven goals on 34 shots.
The Nailers will finish the 2016-17 season on Saturday in Kalamazoo at 7:00. For information about 2017-18 season tickets, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.