WORCESTER, MA- Reid Gardiner turned in a fantastic night for the Wheeling Nailers, who made their first ever visit to DCU Center a memorable one, as they took down the Worcester Railers, 5-2. Gardiner netted a hat trick, collecting his 18th, 19th, and 20th goals of the season, including his sixth game winner. He was joined in the goal column by Riley Bourbonnais and Jeff Taylor, while Adam Morrison made 28 saves in front of 5,611 fans.
The Nailers got on the scoreboard 1:52 into the contest, thanks to a player who has a flare for scoring early. Michael Turner poked the puck along the end boards to J.C. Campagna, who spotted Riley Bourbonnais in the slot. Bourbonnais proceeded to roof a wrist shot into the top-left corner of the net for his third goal within the first two minutes of a game. Worcester temporarily tied things up with a power play goal at the 5:40 mark, when Matthew Gaudreau tapped in the rebound of Nick Saracino's initial attempt. However, Wheeling regained its advantage with a power play marker of its own. Jeff Taylor stepped up into the left circle, firing a shot into the upper part of the cage. Kevin Schulze picked up the primary assist in his 100th professional game.
The lone goal in the second period went to the visiting side, as the Nailers extended their advantage. Schulze and defensive partner Dylan Zink jumped up to help out the play deep in the offensive end. Zink ended up dishing a pass out of the right corner to Reid Gardiner in the right circle, and Gardiner proceeded to get just enough velocity on his one-timer to convert for his team-leading 18th marker of the campaign.
Wheeling put the game away in the third period, starting in the opening minute, when Gardiner rushed past a defender, and whipped a wrist shot into the left side of the goal for his second tally of the contest. The Railers got a goal from Brian Bowen at the 4:44 mark to pull within two, but Gardiner threw one final dagger into the empty net, finishing off his hat trick and a 5-2 Nailers triumph.
Adam Morrison earned his fourth straight win in goal for Wheeling, turning away 28 of the 30 shots he faced. Alex Sakellaropoulos suffered the loss in his first career start for Worcester, allowing four goals on 28 shots.
The Nailers will play one more road game against the Railers on Sunday at 3:05. Wheeling will then return to WesBanco Arena for a seven-game homestand, starting on January 24th with a WesBanco Winning Wednesday against the Kalamazoo Wings. Highlight games during the homestand include Princesses & Pirates Night on January 27th, Faith & Family Night on January 28th, and 90's Night on February 2nd, starring Alfonso Ribeiro. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.