WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers had their most dramatic game of the season on Friday night, and it came at a perfect time, as they ended a three-game winless skid. Wheeling fell behind the Fort Wayne Komets, 4-0, before scoring six of the game's final seven goals for a thrilling 6-5 triumph at WesBanco Arena. Adam Krause netted the tying goal with 2:34 left, then the winner with 2:16 to go, giving him his first career hat trick.
The Nailers ran into some familiar troubles in the first period, as they fell behind the Komets by a couple of goals, with one of them coming on the power play. That marker was the first of the two, and it came at the 11:13 mark of the frame. Former Wheeling blueliner Bobby Shea let a wrist shot go from the center point, whipping it through traffic, along the ice, and into the net. Fort Wayne added to its lead 5:42 later. Shea drove the puck to the crease, where it was poked by Doug Carr. Unfortunately, the deflection went off to Mike Cazzola, who tipped in the shot with his backhand.
The Komets continued to succeed on the man advantage, as they added to their lead in the early minutes of period two. At the 51-second mark, Shawn Szydlowski kept the play alive at the right point, before directing an attempt toward the goal. Jamie Schaafsma placed his stick in perfect position to ramp a deflection into the top shelf. Fort Wayne picked up its third power play goal of the night at the 9:40 mark, when Kyle Thomas lifted a shot into the top-right corner. Wheeling's offense broke through a couple of minutes later, as the comeback got started. Brett Stern stepped up into the left circle, and found an opening just inside of the right post for his third strike of the month. With 2:25 remaining, the gap was closed to two, as the Nailers potted a power play goal. Josh Shalla took the puck to the left circle, where he slid it ahead, and got some help from Adam Krause's tip to find the twine.
The momentum carried into the third period, as Wheeling pulled to within a goal at the 2:17 mark. Krause spun and fired a shot on goal, which was kicked out by Eric Hartzell, but a gigantic rebound tumbled out to Garrett Meurs, who drilled it back in against his former squad. The Nailers then climbed all the way back to tie the contest at 7:13. Kevin Schulze dished the puck out of the right corner to Andrew Ammon, whose one-time drive flew into the top-right corner. Fort Wayne temporarily put the brakes on Wheeling's theatrical third, when Cody Sol found the cage from the the middle of the blueline. The Nailers were determined to get something out of the night, and with 2:34 to go, they squared the score at five. Schulze's shot was batted by Christian Hilbrich to Krause on the left side of the crease, where he tapped in the equalizer. 18 seconds after that, Krause completed his hat trick as well as the comeback, banking in a shot from the right side of the goal line for a 6-5 final score.
Doug Carr got the win for Wheeling, making 19 saves on 24 shots. Eric Hartzell took the loss for Fort Wayne in his return to WesBanco Arena, giving up six goals on 39 shots.
The Nailers will face the Komets in Fort Wayne on Saturday at 7:30, before returning home for two games before the holidays. Tuesday is a 7:05 tilt against the Manchester Monarchs, and McDonald's presents $6 kids tickets. On Thursday at 7:05, fans can wear an ugly sweater to the game and get an $11 ticket, as Wheeling battles the Cincinnati Cyclones. Later this month, fans will be able to get $10 tickets for Throwback Night on New Year's Eve, when the Nailers wear Thunderbirds jerseys in their game against the Elmira Jackals. Holiday packs are currently available, and may be purchased through the Nailers office only. The 12 Days of Christmas are taking place now. Keep tabs on the team's social media networks to learn about that day's special. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, mini plans, group tickets, packages, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.