FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers faced a few multi-goal deficits on Wednesday night, but nearly rallied to steal a point from the Fort Wayne Komets at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Trevor Yates netted his first professional hat trick, and Johnny Austin added three points, but Wheeling fell short, 6-5. J.C. Campagna and Mason Baptista both tallied twice for the Komets.
The first period was a busy one, as the teams combined for five goals, six penalties, and 21 shots. Fort Wayne was first on the board at the 55-second mark, when J.C. Campagna's shot from the high slot dipped into the bottom-right corner of the net. Jamie Schaafsma extended his club's advantage by whacking a Kyle Hope feed out of the air on the left side of the crease. Wheeling responded with a successful penalty kill, then two goals in a span of 39 seconds. Johnny Austin rushed down to bury a shot from the bottom of the right circle, then Trevor Yates slammed a Yushiroh Hirano pass into the wide open right side of the goal. The Komets regained the lead 48 seconds later, when Mason Baptista converted on a 2-on-1 break.
Fort Wayne used its special teams to add two more goals in the middle frame. Campagna cashed in with his second of the night on a 5-on-3, as he rifled in a wrist shot from the middle of the offensive zone. A little more than five minutes later, Shawn Szydlowski kept the puck to himself on a 2-on-1 break, ripping a shot into the top-right corner of the cage.
The Nailers put a strong comeback together in the third period, and came one shot away from forcing extra hockey. Yates drove in a perfect pass from Austin on the right side of the slot, then banked the puck in from behind the goal to complete his first career hat trick. However, the biggest tally of the night came in the middle of those two, as Baptista tipped in a right point drive from Ryan Lowney. Mark Petaccio tapped home a loose puck in the crease for Wheeling to trim the deficit to one, but the visitors fell short of an equalizer, as the Komets prevailed, 6-5.
Zachary Fucale got the win for Fort Wayne, making 25 saves on 30 shots. Jordan Ruby suffered the defeat, turning aside 29 of the 35 shots he faced.
The Nailers will play another road game on Sunday at 3:00, when they visit the Kalamazoo Wings. Wheeling's next home game is Education Day on March 12th at 10:45 a.m. against the Indy Fuel. A limited number of tickets are available for $8. The next big promotional game is Fan Appreciation Night on 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.