WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers got off to the start they were looking for on Thursday night, but unfortunately, the end result didn't go their way. Garrett Meurs and Josh Shalla staked the home team to a 2-0 lead in the first 6:13, but the Reading Royals answered with four straight goals to go ahead by a pair. Despite Jordan Kwas' late marker, Wheeling was unable to overcome the deficit, as the Royals came away with the 4-3 triumph at WesBanco Arena.
Goal scoring occurred frequently in the opening ten minutes of play, as the red light was turned on three times by the two clubs. Wheeling was the first team to find the back of the net, doing so at the 4:15 mark of the first period. Ethan Prow zipped a pass into the offensive zone for Garrett Meurs, who had plenty of space on the left side. Meurs skated into the left circle, snapping a shot into the top-right corner of the net. The sharp shooting continued 1:57 later, with the Nailers playing on the man advantage. Derek Army won a face-off, allowing Kevin Schulze and Cody Wydo to exchange quick passes, before ultimately connecting with Josh Shalla, who flicked a shot into the top-left corner of the cage. Reading got one goal back 2:33 later with a power play tally of its own. Mike Marcou's shot from the blueline was stopped, but Olivier Labelle jammed away at the rebound, trickling it in over the line.
After the explosive first period, only one goal was scored in period two, and it went to the visitors, who knotted the tilt. Chris McCarthy took a shot from the edge of the right circle, burying it just underneath the crossbar on the left side of the goal. Despite the tally, Wheeling had more opportunities in the stanza, outshooting the Royals, 13-7.
In the third period, Reading continued its string of goals, taking the lead for the first time in the contest. Maxim Lamarche stepped up with a shot from the top of the left circle, which was denied by Doug Carr, but the rebound kicked out to Michael Pelech, who banged it back into the net on the man advantage. 40 seconds later, the Royals went ahead by two, as Matt Wilkins made a quick fake at the left face-off dot, before sliding a shot in along the ice. The Nailers rebounded 46 seconds after that to pull within a goal, as Jordan Kwas crashed the crease to tip in a pass from Gage Quinney. Unfortunately, an equalizer was not in the cards, as Wheeling came up short, 4-3.
Martin Ouellette got the win for Reading, making 26 saves on 29 shots. Doug Carr took the loss for Wheeling, turning aside 25 of the 29 attempts he faced.
The Nailers will play their first road game of the season on Saturday in Cincinnati at 7:35. Wheeling's next home game will take place on October 29th at 8:05 against Kalamazoo. That night will be Kids Halloween, featuring Trick-or-Treat and a Costume Contest. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, mini plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.