READING, PA- The Wheeling Nailers fell behind the Reading Royals early on Friday night, and were almost able to make a comeback. Despite a power play goal by Graham Knott and a shorthanded strike by Alec Butcher, Reading's three-goal start was enough to produce a victory, as the home team prevailed, 5-2 at Santander Arena.
The Nailers suffered through a difficult start, as they were outshot, 19-5, while Reading put a pair of pucks into the net. The first goal came off of an offensive zone face-off, as Eric Knodel and Matthew Gaudreau quickly moved the puck around to Matthew Strome, who connected on a one-timer from the top of the left circle. With under two minutes remaining, the Royals struck on the power play, as Thomas Ebbing roofed a shot just under the crossbar, following a rush into the zone by Hayden Hodgson.
Brayden Low extended Reading's lead in the early stages of the middle frame, before Wheeling battled back to within a goal. The first tally resulted after just five seconds of power play time, as Ryan Scarfo won a face-off back to Graham Knott, whose blueline blast flew into the left side of the cage. Later in the period, the Nailers picked up a shorthanded marker. Blake Siebenaler led Ryan Scarfo and Alec Butcher on an odd-man rush, with Scarfo feeding Butcher in the slot for the goal.
The early deficit ended up being too much to overcome, and the Royals added two empty netters to cap off their 5-2 win. Steven Swavely and Ebbing were the goal scorers.
Kirill Ustimenko got the win in goal for Reading, making 23 saves on 25 shots. Emil Larmi had a solid performance in the defeat for Wheeling, stopping 39 of the 42 shots he faced.
The Nailers will return home to WesBanco Arena for Nickelodeon Night on Saturday at 7:05. The team will wear special jerseys, plus fans can meet Mikey and Raph of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Friends & Family 4 Pack is available for that game, in which fans can get four tickets, four Tito's Sloppy Doggs and a $10 voucher to the team shop for $52. 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.