GREENVILLE, SC- The Wheeling Nailers have greatly enjoyed their opening games as of late, and on Friday night, they earned at least a point for the seventh consecutive year. Garrett Meurs lit the lamp twice, but Reid Gardiner's power play goal with 7:45 left in the third period was the difference in a high scoring game, which saw the Nailers get the better of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, 5-4 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Sean Maguire made 43 saves in the winning effort.
Both teams were more than ready for the season, as they combined for 29 shots on goal. The Nailers had the early edge in play, but Greenville scored the lone goal of the stanza with 5:23 remaining. Caleb Herbert rushed down the left side of the ice, creating a 2-on-1 rush. Herbert kept the puck to himself in the left circle, roofing a wrist shot into the top-right corner of the cage.
The second period was a different story, as the clubs combined to score five goals, sending the contest into the intermission deadlocked, 3-3. Wheeling got its first tally of the season 49 seconds into the frame. Cody Wydo flew down the left side of the ice, then cut to the middle, sliding a backhander into the right side of the net. Garrett Meurs gave the Nailers their first lead 1:40 later, when he cruised into the slot and rifled a shot against the grain and past Brandon Halverson's blocker. Greenville had a quick answer, pulling even 28 seconds after that on a great individual effort by Adam Chapie, who poked in a shot while falling to the ice. Branden Troock redirected in a shot from Bretton Cameron on the power play to give the Swamp Rabbits back the lead, but with 41 seconds to go, Meurs potted his second of the period, firing home a shot from the slot off of a face-off win by Derek Army.
At the 2:55 mark, Wheeling retook the lead. Cody Wydo battled his way around the back of the net, before stuffing a pass into the slot. Nick Sorkin drove down the middle to snag the feed, depositing a shot into the top-left corner of the goal. Reid Gardiner cashed in on a two-man advantage, punching in a rebound on the left side of the crease for what turned out to be a huge goal, as the Swamp Rabbits cut the margin to one, thanks to Curt Gogol's power play strike with 4:47 remaining. The Nailers shut the door from there, finishing off their 5-4 triumph.
Sean Maguire was extremely busy in his first win of the season for Wheeling, as he stopped 43 of the 47 shots he faced. Brandon Halverson took the loss for Greenville, giving up five goals on 44 shots.
The Nailers and Swamp Rabbits will meet again in Greenville on Saturday at 7:00. The home season begins on October 21st, when the Nailers clash with the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:05. The party starts with a pregame fan fest at 4:00, featuring music from the band "Hit Play," as well as team introductions, refreshments, and activities for all. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.