WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers and Kalamazoo Wings combined for 110 penalty minutes on Saturday night in an emotional game at WesBanco Arena. Former Nailer Reid Gardiner scored the winning goal and an insurance marker, as the Wings prevailed, 5-2. Michael Phillips and Johnny Austin were the Wheeling goal scorers.
Both teams got on the scoreboard in the first period, with the Wings going ahead early, before Wheeling drew even in the late stages. On the opening tally, Brendan Bradley's cross-ice pass banked off a skate, finding its way into the slot, where a one-timer was pounded in by Kyle Blaney. With 2:41 remaining, the Nailers answered on the man advantage. Renars Krastenbergs touched a pass into the low slot, where Michael Phillips took his time, then lifted a wrist shot into the top-right corner.
The second period was a difficult one for Wheeling, who surrendered three goals, with two of them coming during 4-on-3 scenarios. Kyle Thomas' go-ahead goal came at even strength, as he spiked in a one-timer from the right side of the slot. Kalamazoo then turned to former Nailer Reid Gardiner, who found the twine by stepping into the slot for his first, then driving in a left circle one-timer for his second, giving him seven goals in four games during the season series.
The penalties highlighted the story of the third period, while each team scored once to make for a 5-2 final. Johnny Austin deposited the rebound of Troy Josephs' shot during 4-on-4 play for Wheeling, before Bradley tipped in Jagger Dirk's left point wrist shot on the man advantage, giving the Wings their third power play goal of the night.
Jake Hildebrand got the win for Kalamazoo, turning away 21 of the 23 shots he faced. John Muse took the loss for the Nailers, making 19 saves on 24 shots.
The Nailers will conclude their six-game homestand on Tuesday night, when they hit the ice for a 7:05 face-off against the Cincinnati Cyclones. The next big promotional night is Country Roads, featuring a Mason Jar Giveaway to the first 2,000 fans on February 16th. 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.