WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers welcomed their largest crowd of the season into WesBanco Arena, as 5,249 fans came for Pittsburgh Penguins Night. Unfortunately, the Nailers fell short in their bid for a three-game sweep on the homestand, as the Reading Royals picked up a 6-3 win, with two-goal nights by Matt Wilkins and Michael Huntebrinker. Cody Wydo, Troy Josephs, and Garrett Meurs were the goal scorers for Wheeling.
The Nailers got the first goal of the night, but Reading answered with a pair to take a lead into the intermission. The first marker was created by Reid Gardiner's blast from the right circle. Branden Komm made the save, but the rebound pounded out to Cody Wydo, who cashed in on the left side. The first tally by the Royals also came off of a rebound, as Matt Wilkins shoveled in the second chance of Frank Hora's initial try. Less than two minutes after that, Reading went ahead, when Matt Willows rushed in, sliding home a shot from the right circle.
The Royals added to their advantage in the middle frame. At the 7:07 mark, Michael Huntebrinker lifted in a power play goal off of a three-way passing play with Steven Swavely and Tyler Brown. Wilkins tipped in a shot by Chris McCarthy for the fourth Reading goal of the evening, and Adam Schmidt followed that up with a lucky bounce from the right side. Troy Josephs got a goal back for Wheeling with 2:47 to go, as he dangled to the front of the cage, jamming a shot through Branden Komm.
Both teams scored once in the third period, as Huntebrinker capitalized off of a turnover for the Royals, while Garrett Meurs roofed a pass from Chris Francis for the Nailers, as the game ended 6-3 in favor of Reading.
Branden Komm got the win in goal for the Royals, making 24 saves on 27 shots. Danny Tirone suffered the defeat in his professional debut for Wheeling, turning aside 18 of 23 shots, before giving way to Adam Morrison, who finishing with 12 saves in the third period.
The Nailers will play a pair of games on the road next weekend, as they visit Worcester on Friday at 7:05, then Adirondack on Saturday at 3:00. Wheeling will then return home for four straight games, starting with a WesBanco Winning Wednesday on March 21st against the Railers. The first 2,500 fans will receive can koozies at the March 23rd game. Saturday, March 24th is Charity Night, benefitting WVU Medicine Children's Hospital. The next big promotional game is Fan Appreciation Night on March 31st, featuring prizes throughout the night, a team trading card set giveaway, and a post game autograph session with the entire team. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.