FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers were one period away from a victory, and less than two minutes away from taking at least a point out of Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. However, the host Fort Wayne Komets had other ideas. Wheeling built a 3-1 lead on goals by Garrett Meurs, Cody Wydo, and Gage Quinney, before the Komets came surging back with three markers of their own for a 4-3 win on home ice.
Both teams lit the lamp in the first period, with the Komets starting the scoring early, and the Nailers responding later. Fort Wayne's goal came off of a zone entry, as Mason Baptista made his way to the left circle, before whipping a pass through the slot. The recipient of the feed was Travis Ewanyk, who drove a one-timer along the ice and into the net. Wheeling's marker took place with 6:49 remaining. Tyler Currier flew in on the left side of the offensive zone, then deposited a pass to Garrett Meurs on the right side of the crease. With the goaltender lunging, Meurs lifted the puck into the cage, giving him three goals in three games in his former home arena.
In the latter half of the middle frame, the Nailers pulled ahead, denting the twine a couple of times on the power play. Both tallies started the same way, with the puck being worked to Kevin Schulze for a shot from the middle of the blueline. On the first marker, the rebound kicked out to Cody Wydo, who slammed in his team-leading 25th goal of the campaign. With 2:33 to go, Gage Quinney added insurance, putting the first rebound off of the post, before roofing a backhander on his second opportunity.
Things turned in the wrong direction during the third period, as the Komets rallied back for the triumph. The comeback began at the 6:58 mark, when Mike Cazzola centered a pass to Mike Embach, who drilled a one-timer in along the ice. The tying marker came a little less than six minutes later. Colin Mulvey flipped the puck from the left wing wall to the right side of the crease, where it tipped off of Baptista's body and into the cage. With 1:22 remaining, Fort Wayne got the winning goal, courtesy of a power play tip-in by Trevor Cheek off of Shawn Szydlowski's one-timer from the top of the left circle. The Nailers were unable to pull even with such little time on the clock, as the Komets prevailed, 4-3.
Garrett Bartus got the win in goal for Fort Wayne, stopping 27 of the 30 shots he faced. Doug Carr was saddled with the loss for Wheeling, despite coming up with 33 saves on 37 shots.
The Nailers will conclude their seven-game road trip against the Komets on Sunday at 5:00. The next homestand at WesBanco Arena will take place on March 10th, 11th, and 12th. The 10th is a Flat Screen Friday and Frosty Friday at 7:35 against Quad City. The Mallards are the opponent on the 11th at 7:05, which is Duck Dynasty Night, starring John Godwin and Justin Martin, as well as a camouflage hat giveaway. Finally, the weekend wraps up on the 12th, which is Youth Hockey Day at 5:05 against Toledo. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, mini plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.