WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers earned their gutsiest win of the season on Friday night with a remarkable comeback against the Fort Wayne Komets at WesBanco Arena. Wheeling trailed 4-1 midway through the second period, then rattled off four goals in 4:22 to jump ahead, 5-4. Lucas Kohls netted the tying goal in his professional debut, then Alec Butcher tallied the go-ahead strike. Winston Day Chief added one more marker in the third period, and Matt O'Connor made 43 saves, as the Nailers were victorious, 6-4.
The Nailers opened the scoring, but the remainder of the first period belonged to Fort Wayne, who responded with three goals on 24 shots. The Wheeling marker went to Yushiroh Hirano, who completed an end-to-end rush with a wrist shot from the right circle. The Komets drew even 38 seconds later, when Anthony Petruzzelli banged in the rebound of his stuff shot on the left side. J.C. Campagna then put the visitors in the lead from a difficult angle on the left side of the goal line, and Anthony Nellis extended the advantage on a rush down the right side of the ice.
Nellis notched his second of the evening to give Fort Wayne a 4-1 lead, before the Nailers surged back to take the lead with four goals in a span of 4:22. Zac Lynch was first to crack into the deficit, as he capitalized on a turnover, breaking down the right side, then crossing to the middle to flip in a backhander. 2:01 later, Cedric Lacroix pulled Wheeling within one, tapping in Trevor Yates' feed, which had resulted in a loose puck in the crease. Lucas Kohls netted the equalizer for his first career goal 1:26 after that, scooping home the rebound of Lacroix's shot. Then, with 1:06 remaining in the stanza, Alec Butcher put the Nailers on top, as he slammed in the rebound of Lynch's center point drive.
After making 21 saves in the first period, Matt O'Connor kept the door shut with 14 more stops in the third, while Winston Day Chief tossed in an empty netter, as the Nailers completed their 6-4 comeback win.
O'Connor finished the night by tying Wheeling's season high, stopping 43 of the 47 shots he faced to earn his tenth victory of the year. Alex Dubeau suffered his first regulation loss as a pro, allowing five goals on 33 shots for the Komets.
The Nailers will travel to Reading for a 7:00 game on Saturday, before returning to WesBanco Arena Sunday to face Kalamazoo at 3:05. Sunday is First Responders Night, plus all fans receive a team poster, and there will be a full team autograph session following the game. Tickets for that game are $12. Next weekend, Wheeling plays a pair of home tilts, highlighted by Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday, April 6th. 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.