KALAMAZOO, MI- The Wheeling Nailers battled back from a pair of deficits on Friday night, earning a point against the Kalamazoo Wings at Wings Event Center. However, it was a former Nailer who led his team to the bonus point, as Reid Gardiner snapped a 3-3 deadlock at 1:28 of overtime, winning the game for Kalamazoo. Kevin Spinozzi, Cedric Lacroix, and Michael Phillips scored for Wheeling.
Kalamazoo got off to a quick start offensively, opening the scoring just 20 seconds into the game. Kyle Blaney tossed a pass to the right side of the slot, where a shot was slammed into the top shelf by Tyler Biggs. The Wings upped their lead less than five minutes later. Jordan Ruby made a sparkling save off of Brandon Anselmini's one-timer from Justin Taylor, but the Kalamazoo defender was able to reach out and swipe in the rebound. The Nailers got on the scoreboard at the 8:56 mark of the stanza, when Kevin Spinozzi clobbered home a shot from the top of the left circle. Nick Saracino and Cam Brown recorded the assists, stretching their point streaks to five games.
Wheeling's penalty kill was splendid, thwarting six man advantages for the Wings, while tying the game with a shorthanded goal. Dane Birks kicked the puck ahead to Cedric Lacroix, who drove down the right side and converted. Kalamazoo took the lead back with 2:24 left in the frame, as Biggs slammed in a one-time feed from Anselmini.
With 6:32 left in the third period, the Nailers pulled even for the second time, which earned them a point on the road. Brown drove a shot on goal, which was kicked out by Jake Hildebrand, but the rebound was chipped into the top-right corner by Michael Phillips.
Unfortunately, overtime didn't go Wheeling's way, and it was a former Nailer playing the role of hero. Tanner Sorenson banked a pass off Jordan Ruby to Reid Gardiner, who lifted in the winning goal for a 4-3 final.
Jake Hildebrand picked up the victory for the Wings, blocking 34 of the 37 shots he faced. Jordan Ruby has helped his team earn points in four straight starts. He was saddled with the overtime defeat, despite 24 saves on 28 shots.
The Nailers return home for a big night against the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday at 7:05. WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley will be the star of the night for NailerMania, which will also feature Black Diamond Wrestling. Saturday is also the annual Teddy Bear Toss - bring a new or gently used stuffed animal and throw it on the ice when the Nailers score their first goal. The stuffed animals will be collected by the Salvation Army, who will gift them to children in the Ohio Valley. Finally, Saturday is Ugly Sweater Night. Family Four Packs are available for NailerMania, as well as a special on 300-level tickets. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley. For information on season tickets, group tickets, flex plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.