WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers and Reading Royals played the first of back-to-back games this weekend on Friday nights, and fans were on the edges of their seats right until the final goal was scored. That marker went to Troy Josephs, who finished off a three-point night by netting the winning goal at 2:34 of overtime, lifting the Nailers to a 4-3 triumph at WesBanco Arena. The game was also a memorable one for Matt Abt, who scored for Wheeling in his professional debut.
After a scoreless opening period, it was the Nailers who got on the board first at the 6:46 mark of the middle frame. Troy Josephs led a rush into the offensive zone, sifting a pass into the middle of the slot, where a one-timer was pounded into the back of the net by Matt Abt, who collected the goal in his professional debut. Another defenseman connected later in the stanza. Wheeling cashed in on a bad line change by the Royals, with Riley Bourbonnais winding around the cage, before setting up Danny Fick for the strike. Reading broke through 34 seconds after Fick, as Matt Willows stole the puck along the left wall, then buried a shot from the left circle.
The Royals pulled even on the power play at the 11:47 mark of the third period, when Matt Wilkins banged in the rebound of Nolan Zajac's drive from the left point. Wilkins then gave Reading the lead with 3:05 to go, when he spun in a shot from the slot. However, the Nailers came right back, forcing overtime with 1:19 on the clock. Fick rushed the puck through neutral ice, and into the offensive zone, where Josephs fed Garrett Meurs for a right circle attempt. Mark Dekanich made the save, but booted the rebound out to Freddie Tiffels, who pounded in the equalizer.
At the 2:34 mark of overtime, Wheeling sent its fans home happy. Reid Gardiner peeled around along the left side of the goal line, before dropping a pass to Josephs, who thundered in a one-timer from the left circle, punctuating the 4-3 victory for the Nailers.
Adam Morrison made 28 saves on 31 shots to earn the win for Wheeling. Mark Dekanich took the overtime loss for Reading, allowing four goals on 35 shots.
The Nailers and Royals will meet again on Saturday for Pittsburgh Penguins Night at 7:05. Fans can see the Stanley Cup, the Nailers will wear special jerseys, and the first 2,500 fans will receive a Carter Rowney Bobblehead. Less than 500 tickets remain. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.