TOLEDO, OH- The Wheeling Nailers had their most dominant performance of the season, and it came in front of a sellout crowd of 8,117 fans at Huntington Center in Downtown Toledo. Alex Rauter and Yushiroh Hirano both scored twice, Troy Josephs and Zac Lynch had four-point nights, and Cedric Lacroix picked up a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, as the Nailers blasted the Walleye, 8-2.
The Nailers got off to a flying start in the first period, turning on the red light three times. The first tally started with a pass from the end wall by Zac Lynch, who sent Alex Rauter and Troy Josephs away on a 2-on-1. Rauter passed to Josephs, who returned the feed, giving Rauter an open side of the cage. 1:32 later, the tandem of Rauter and Josephs struck again, with Rauter roofing a shot from the right side of the crease. Toledo got on the board 51 seconds after that with a rebound goal by TJ Hensick, but Wheeling quickly responded in a matter of 11 seconds, as Johnny Austin redirected a feed from Mark Petaccio.
The offense continued to dominate in the middle frame for the Nailers, who upped their lead to four. Troy Josephs intercepted the puck at the 12:46 mark, and blazed home a shot from the right face-off dot. Then, with one minute to go in the period, Yushiroh Hirano dented the twine with a slap shot from the top of the left circle, while Wheeling played with the man advantage.
More goals flew in during the third period, as the Nailers put a few more finishing touches on their one-sided victory. Renars Krastenbergs cashed in on a 2-on-1 break with Lynch at 1:43, Cedric Lacroix completed a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with a shorthanded strike at 8:18, and Hirano tallied his second of the contest on the man advantage at 10:11 for the 8-2 final.
John Muse made a lot of big saves in the game, and finished with 29 in the winning effort for Wheeling. Kaden Fulcher was the losing goaltender, as he got torched for five goals on 17 shots, before giving way to Pat Nagle, who was bested three times on nine shots.
The Nailers return home for three games next weekend, as the Utah Grizzlies come to town on Friday at 7:05, followed by the Indy Fuel on Saturday at 7:05 and Sunday at 3:05. Friday's game is a Frosty Friday, Saturday is Nickelodeon Night Featuring SpongeBob & Patrick, and Sunday is a Family Funday, which includes a Post Game Skate with the Team (odd-numbered players). Thanks to WTRF-7, Family Four Packs are available for Nickelodeon Night - fans can get four tickets, four hats, and four McDonald's Meal Vouchers for $60. 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.