FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers and Fort Wayne Komets played a wild game on Sunday afternoon at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Wheeling had a 5-2 lead in the early stages of the third period, before Fort Wayne rallied back to force overtime. For the second time in less than a week, Alec Butcher was the hero for the Nailers, as he scored the winning goal in the third round of the shootout, giving his team a 6-5 victory. Jordan Ruby made 42 saves during regulation and overtime.
The first period was a tale of two parts. Fort Wayne got off to a strong start, which included the opening goal, as Ryan Lowney tossed in a wrist shot from the left point. After the ten-minute mark, the Nailers got the engines running, responding with two goals to take the lead. Yushiroh Hirano created the equalizer with a dart from the left circle, which got padded away, but Trevor Yates was perfectly positioned to deposit the rebound. 1:08 later, Wheeling went ahead, as Alec Butcher whipped a wrist shot into the top-left corner of the net.
The Nailers added to their advantage in the middle frame. At the 12:48 mark, Butcher led an odd-man rush with a cross-ice feed to Robbie Hall on the right side. Hall rushed past the defense, then zipped a shot glove side on Lukas Hafner. With 3:11 remaining, Wheeling notched its 15th shorthanded goal of the season as Cedric Lacroix and Zac Lynch converted a 2-on-1 break, with Lacroix tying the lead by scoring his fifth of the year with a teammate in the penalty box.
Things got a bit crazy in the third period, as the Komets put forth a big rally to force overtime. Lynch picked up the lone marker for the Nailers banging in a one-timer from the low slot, after Butcher curled around the back of the net. That turned out to be a huge goal, as Garrett Clarke, Jamie Schaafsma, and Brady Shaw talled in the final nine minutes of regulation, with Shaw's shorthanded goal knotting the score at five.
Overtime couldn't solve anything, leading to a shootout. After J.C. Campagna scored on his first shot for Fort Wayne, Jordan Ruby denied Szydlowski and Shaw, opening the door for the Nailers. Cam Brown tied the shootout in round two, then Butcher netted his second winner of the weekend, ending the contest on the last shot for a 6-5 Wheeling triumph.
Jordan Ruby eclipsed 40 saves for the second time in the week, turning away 42 of the 47 shots he faced in the game, before going 2-for-3 in the shootout for the win. Lukas Hafner allowed five goals on 20 shots, before going 1-for-3 in the shootout loss for the Komets.
The Nailers will continue their string of four straight road games on Thursday night, when they visit the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:35. Wheeling's next home game is Pittsburgh Penguins Night on March 2nd against the Cincinnati Cyclones. 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.