KALAMAZOO, MI- The Wheeling Nailers played one of their better games of the road trip on Friday night, but ran out of gas in their third game in three days, as they were facing the Kalamazoo Wings, who had Thursday off. Aaron Thow scored on the power play at the 13:23 mark of the second period, giving Kalamazoo a lead it didn't relinquish, as the Wings prevailed 4-2 at Wings Event Center.
Both teams lit the lamp once during the openeing frame. Kalamazoo was first on the board at the one-minute mark. Ben Wilson tossed a shot toward the pile from the right point, which was tipped into the left side of the cage by Brennan Sanford. The Nailers responded with 6:58 remaining. Brandon Hawkins swiped the puck off the end wall and into the right side of the slot, where Alec Butcher chipped a one-timer into the left side of the net.
The Wings pulled ahead on a couple of occasions in the second period. Spencer Naas let a wrist shot go from the high slot for a 2-1 lead, before Wheeling answered with an equalizer. Renars Krastenbergs wired a one-timer off the crossbar, which produced a rebound finisher by Cam Brown from the left circle. Kalamazoo went back on top with one second left on a man advantage, when Aaron Thow's shot from the top of the right circle ramped off a stick and into the top-right corner of the goal.
The Nailers got a power play in the closing minutes, but Kyle Blaney's shorthanded empty netter sealed the 4-2 win for the Wings.
Jake Hildebrand was the winning goaltender for Kalamazoo, as he made 29 saves on 31 shots. Alex D'Orio stopped 35 of the 38 shots he faced for Wheeling, but suffered the defeat.
The Nailers will return home on Tuesday for Education Day at 10:45 a.m. against the Reading Royals. Next week will feature a total of four home contests, highlighted by St. Hat Tricks Day on Saturday, March 14th at 7:05. St. Hat Tricks Day will feature specialty jerseys, as well as a hat giveaway to the first 2,000 fans, and Irish Drink Specials. Friends & Family Ticket Packages are available for all Saturday home games, which include 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.