KALAMAZOO, MI- The Wheeling Nailers were attempting to have a game of comebacks on Friday night, as they battled the Kalamazoo Wings at Wings Event Center. Wheeling erased three separate deficits, but were unable to overcome two Kalamazoo goals which were sandwiched around the second intermission, as the Wings prevailed 5-4 on their home ice.
The first period was an explosive one offensively, as both teams lit the lamp twice, while posting double digits in shots. Kalamazoo struck first, when Luke Sandler intercepted a pass in the low slot, before roofing a backhander. The Nailers answered 1:17 later. Blake Siebenaler teed up a slap shot from the right point that was tipped home by Justin Almeida. The Wings briefly regained the lead on Ian Edmondson's stuff shot in front of the net, but Wheeling responded in a matter of 1:39, as Cam Brown smacked in a centering feed from Alec Butcher on a play that was started at the blueline by Aaron Titcomb.
The offenses were a bit quiet in the early stages of the middle frame, but that changed in the closing minutes. Justin Kovacs slammed in Kyle Blaney's pass from behind the net to give Kalamazoo its third lead at the 10:31 mark. Wheeling drew even on the man advantage, as Renars Krastenbergs tipped in Brandon Hawkins' wrist shot from the center point. However, with 6.6 seconds left in the stanza, the Wings got a lucky bounce, as Eric Kattelus had his shot blocked by a Nailers defender, as it rolled into the right side of the cage.
The biggest goal of the night came in the opening minute of the third period. Kalamazoo's Matheson Iacopelli blazed down the right side, then cut to the net to deposit a breakaway strike. The Nailers closed the gap to one with Nick Minerva's extra attacker goal in the closing minutes, but were unable to come up with an equalizer, as they fell, 5-4.
Jake Hildebrand picked up the win for the Wings, making 32 saves on 36 shots. Alex D'Orio stopped 24 of the 29 shots he faced in the defeat for Wheeling.
The Nailers will wrap up their pre-All-Star Break schedule on Saturday night, when they visit the Indy Fuel at 6:05. Wheeling's next home game is Friday, January 24th at 7:05, which is also a Frosty Friday against the Cincinnati Cyclones. Cincinnati sticks around for Saturday, January 25th, which is Pups & Pucks, as fans can bring their dog to the game. The next Big 6 Promotional Game is Country Roads on Saturday, February 1st against the Orlando Solar Bears, with a special 7:35 start time. Friends & Family 4 Packs presented by WTRF-7 are available for all Saturday home games, and feature 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.