WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers and Worcester Railers played a game on Wednesday night that had loads of playoff feel, and the win came down to one goal. That goal came on the final shot of the night, after 65 minutes of scoreless regulation and overtime, as well as three failed shootout attempts for each side. Chris Francis broke the deadlock in the fourth round of the shootout, and Adam Morrison was perfect in goal, as the Nailers edged the Railers, 1-0, extending their lead to four points over Worcester for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division.
While the goaltenders deserve most of the credit from the 1-0 tilt, the save of the night came from someone who didn't have extra padding on his body. After Morrison stopped a backhander by Yanick Turcotte, the puck trickled out to Connor Doherty, who fired a shot toward a gaping net, only to have Ayrton Valente stand in the way, preserving the tied score in the third period. Both teams turned in solid performances on the penalty kill, denying three opportunities each, including the Nailers, who shut down Worcester's 4-on-3 man advantage for the first 1:08 of overtime.
The first three shootout shooters for each side were Matt Lane, Frankie DiChiara, and Jake Randolph for the Railers, and Reid Gardiner, Cam Brown, and Cody Wydo for Wheeling. Morrison made a blocker save on T.J. Syner in round four, setting the stage for Chris Francis, who blazed a shot past Mitch Gillam's blocker for the game winner.
Adam Morrison earned his first shutout of the year for the Nailers, stopping all 28 shots during the game, then all four shootout attempts. Mitch Gillam also got credit for a shutout, as he made 33 saves during the game, before a 3-for-4 result in the shootout.
The 1-0 shootout win was Wheeling's third in team history. The previous two were recorded on March 26, 1999 at Dayton, and December 27, 2002 vs. Johnstown.
The Nailers will continue their homestand on Friday night, when they welcome the Brampton Beast to town for a 7:05 face-off. NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Garrett Smithley and his "Number Nuthin" car will be at the game, and it will also be a Frosty Friday. The next big promotional game is Fan Appreciation Night on March 31st at 7:05 against the Manchester Monarchs. Fan Appreciation Night will feature a diamond ring giveaway for one lucky fan, a team trading card set for the first 2,500 fans, a full team post game autograph session, and various prizes throughout the game. There is also a Family Four Pack for Fan Appreciation Night, in which fans can get four tickets, four hats, and four McDonald's Meal Vouchers for $56. To purchase tickets, or to get more information about season tickets, flex plans, group tickets, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.