WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers made a statement in a big way on Friday night, as they took down the North Division leading Manchester Monarchs with a seven-goal attack. Riley Bourbonnais netted his second career hat trick as part of a four-point game, while Chris Francis added two goals and two assists in the 7-4 victory at WesBanco Arena.
The Monarchs netted the first goal of the evening, but the Nailers rallied back with a pair in the latter stages of the opening stanza to grab the lead. Manchester's goal came on a 2-on-1 rush, when Zac Lynch fed Keegan Iverson for a redirection, as he cruised down the slot. With 3:16 left in the period, Wheeling drew even. Colin Murray poked the puck ahead to Riley Bourbonnais for a breakaway. Bourbonnais cashed in, whipping a shot through Charles Williams' legs. Less than three minutes later, Bourbonnais put the Nailers ahead, skating onto a loose puck at the left dot, which he stashed into the right side of the cage with one second remaining on a power play.
Wheeling blew things open in a big way during the middle frame, turning on the red light four times. The first marker came in a matter of 17 seconds. Jaynen Rissling took a shot from the top of the left circle, which was tipped home by Chris Francis, who was playing in his first home game for the Nailers. Next up was Bourbonnais, who completed his hat trick, burying a shot from the bottom of the right circle on a 2-on-1 break. After scoring three times, Bourbonnais picked up an assist on Wheeling's fifth goal, which was a one-timer from the right circle by Dylan Zink, set up by Francis. Five goals chased starting goaltender Charles Williams, who was replaced by Branden Komm. Wheeling beat him in the second period as well, as Nick Sorkin swatted in a loose puck from the right side of the crease. Matt Schmalz made the score 6-2 with under a minute to go, lifting a shot under the crossbar.
Michael Doherty and Matt Buckles closed the gap to two in the third period for the Monarchs, before Francis iced the 7-4 triumph for the Nailers with his second goal of the night.
Adam Morrison was the winning goaltender for Wheeling, as he stopped 33 of the 37 shots he faced. Charles Williams gave up five goals on 19 shots in the loss for Manchester, before Brandon Komm made 12 saves on 13 shots in relief.
The Nailers will visit the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday at 7:35, before returning home on Sunday for a 3:05 tilt with the Fort Wayne Komets. Sunday is a Family Funday, featuring a post game skate with the team (odd-numbered players). The next big promotional game is Bricks & Kids Night on January 13th, when the first 2,500 fans receive an OYO Sports Figurine. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.