RAPID CITY, SD- The Wheeling Nailers and Rapid City Rush had never played each other before Wednesday night, but there was plenty of emotion in the late stages of the one-goal match at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Nick Saracino netted his first goal of the season with 2:06 left in the third period, snapping a deadlock, and lifting the Nailers to a 4-3 road victory. Blake Siebenaler added a goal and an assist, while Jordan Ruby made 32 saves.
Both teams were eager to get the game started, as it took just 1:07 for the two sides to record goals. Rapid City struck first at the 45-second mark. Keeghan Howdeshell wound his way around the offensive zone, before wrapping the puck out to the point, where Chris Leibinger pounded a shot in along the ice. The Nailers answered in a matter of 22 seconds. Alec Butcher deked his way into the left circle, where he whipped a shot through goaltender Tyler Parks.
The next 45 minutes went by without a goal, but the final 12 minutes provided plenty of excitement. Blake Siebenaler gave Wheeling its first lead of the contest at the 8:19 mark of the third period, when he zipped in a wrist shot from the slot. The Rush answered 42 seconds late, as Tyler Poulsen slipped in a shot from low on the right side. The Nailers went ahead again with a tap-in fron Christopher Brown, but once again, Rapid City responded, as Trey Phillips cashed in on a scramble around the net. However, just 34 seconds after that, Wheeling took a final lead, as Nick Saracino grabbed the rebound of Siebenaler's point shot, and tucked his first goal of the year into the left side of the cage. The Nailers had to kill a penalty for the final 1:34 of the game, and did so successfully, closing out the 4-3 win.
Jordan Ruby earned the victory in goal for Wheeling, turning away 32 of the 35 shots he faced, including 18 of 20 in the third period. Tyler Parks took the loss for the Rush, despite making 37 saves on 41 shots.
The Nailers and Rush will play twice more this week on Friday and Saturday, with both games starting at 9:05. Wheeling will then return home on December 20th at 7:05 for a Frosty Friday against the Toledo Walleye, then Office Night on December 21st, starring Leslie David Baker. The Nailers will also play at home on New Year's Eve, while the next Big Six Promotional Night is Nickelodeon Night featuring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on January 11th. 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, partial plans, and more, call (304) 234-GOAL.