WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers gave 4,294 fans a lot to cheer about in their final home game of the regular season, as they defeated the division leading Manchester Monarchs, 5-2 at WesBanco Arena. Wheeling got goals from five different players, including Troy Josephs, who had three points, as well as Reid Gardiner, whose goal was his eighth game winner of the year. The Nailers maintain their one-point lead over the Worcester Railers for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. Wheeling has won on Fan Appreciation Night in four straight seasons.
The Nailers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the opening stanza, as they fed off of the excitement of their loud home crowd. Wheeling's first goal came off of a perfect pass at the 4:56 mark. Reid Gardiner tossed the puck to the top of the crease, where it was redirected into the top shelf of the cage by Troy Josephs. The Monarchs answered back 40 seconds later, when Keegan Iverson's backhander flew into the top-left corner. With 2:36 to go, the Nailers went back on top, courtesy of a shorthanded strike. Josephs dished a pass to Cam Brown, who buried a shot from the bottom of the left circle.
After a scoreless second period, Wheeling put the game away in the third. At the 3:04 mark, Nick Sorkin connected with Reid Gardiner, who whipped a wrist shot in along the ice, while his team was on the power play. 1:12 later, Nick Sorkin extended the advantage, slamming a centering pass off of the crossbar and in. Riley Bourbonnais netted the final goal of the night for the Nailers, squeezing in a shot from the bottom of the right circle. Spencer Watson scored on the man advantage for Manchester, giving the game its 5-2 final score in favor of Wheeling.
Adam Morrison backstopped his 17th win of the season for the Nailers, making 25 saves on 27 shots. Evan Cowley was the losing goaltender for the Monarchs, as he allowed five goals on 34 shots.
The Wheeling Nailers will close out the 2017-18 regular season with two games on the road, as they visit Brampton on Friday at 7:15, followed by a 7:30 tilt in Fort Wayne on Saturday. For information about 2018 Kelly Cup Playoff tickets and 2018-19 season tickets, call (304) 234-GOAL.