GLENS FALLS, NY- The Wheeling Nailers closed the gap in the North Division Playoff Race on Friday night in a big way at Glens Falls Civic Center against the Adirondack Thunder. Matias Cleland opened the scoring with his first professional goal, and was followed later in the contest by fellow newcomer Riley Bourbonnais. Cody Wydo potted a pair, and Sean Maguire made 32 saves, as the Nailers were victorious, 5-2.
The Nailers got off to an excellent start, and their newest player made his presence felt right away. Matias Cleland drove down the right side of the ice, poking the puck toward the goal, which created an opportunity for Tyler Currier in the right circle. Currier's attempt was stopped, but Cleland batted the rebound out of the air for his first professional goal on his first career shift. With 6:02 remaining, Wheeling added to its advantage. Michael Webster threw a long feed ahead to Christian Hilbrich, who skated in on the left side of the offensive zone. Hilbrich dropped off a pass to Gage Quinney, who punched in his fourth goal in two games, drilling in a shot from the left circle.
Another quick goal went Wheeling's way in the second period. Kale Kerbashian motored down the right side of the ice, slipping a shot on net. A routine save was made, but the rebound exploded out to Cody Wydo, who slammed in his team-leading 27th marker of the campaign. Midway through the stanza, Adirondack got on the scoreboard with a power play goal. Cullen Bradshaw dropped the puck off to Brian Ward, who roofed a shot from the left circle for his fourht goal in two tilts.
With 4:03 remaining in the game, another new face rose to the occasion, rebuilding the three-goal lead for the Nailers. Garrett Meurs bounced a puck into the low slot for Riley Bourbonnais, who chipped a shot into the left side of the cage. Alex Wall's slap shot from the blueline temporarily made the gap two, before Wydo's second of the evening sailed into an empty net for a 5-2 victory.
Sean Maguire played a big role in the win for Wheeling, as he turned aside 32 of the 34 shots he faced. Drew Fielding was the losing goaltending for Adirondack, as he gave up three goals on ten shots, before giving way to JP Anderson, who made 12 saves on 13 shots in relief.
The Nailers and Thunder will meet again on Saturday at 7:00 in the third of four straight road games for Wheeling. Next week, the Nailers return home for three games on March 22nd, 24th, and 25th, all against the Idaho Steelheads. The 22nd is a WesBanco Winning Wednesday, the 24th is a Flat Screen Friday and Frosty Friday, and the 25th is Nailers Fight Cancer Night. Special jerseys will be worn, with proceeds going to the Team Ryan Charitable Foundation, there will be a team trading card set giveaway, and a post game autograph session with the entire squad, plus it will be Ladies Night. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.