WHEELING, WV- New Year's Eve has traditionally been a successful night for the Wheeling Nailers, and on Thursday night, it was just what they needed to get their first win of the year. Patrick Watling got Wheeling's three-goal second period rolling, then netted what turned out to be the game winner in the third period, as the Nailers earned their 17th New Year's Eve win all-time, 4-3 over the Indy Fuel at WesBanco Arena. Brady Tomlak and Shane Kuzmeski were the other goal scorers, who both recorded their first of their pro careers.
The Nailers came out with some good energy, but the lone goal in the first period was scored by the Fuel on a power play. Spencer Watson made a perfect play at the right point, as he wristed the puck to the left side of the slot, where it was redirected into the net by Derek Barach.
The middle frame was a thriller for Wheeling, as the home team lit the lamp three times. Similar to Indy in the first, a power play marker turned the tide. Felix Robert slipped the puck into the slot for Patrick Watling, who flicked a shot into the right side of the cage. 55 seconds later, the Nailers took the lead. Dylan MacPherson let a wrist shot go from the right point, which was tipped home by Brady Tomlak for his first professional goal. Shane Kuzmeski also collected his first career tally at the 15:29 mark, when his blast from the blueline found the target. Nic Pierog brought the Fuel within a goal during the final minute, as he slid in a one-time feed from Jared Thomas.
At the 5:10 mark of the third period, Wheeling got a key insurance goal, which turned out to be the game winner. After the Nailers won a couple of puck battles, Sean Josling tossed a pass through the low slot to Watling, who cashed in for his second marker of the night. Antoine Waked bounced in the rebound of Willie Raskob's initial shot to make it a one-goal game, but Wheeling was determined to get to the finish line and it did, closing out the 4-3 home win.
Shane Starrett earned the victory in goal for the Nailers, as he denied 25 of the 28 shots he faced. Tom Aubrun took the loss for Indy, as he made 24 saves on 28 shots.
The Nailers and Fuel will conclude their four-game series on Saturday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, with face-off slated for 7:05. That will be the first of five straight road games for Wheeling, who will have its next three home games take place on January 22nd, 23rd, and 24th against the South Carolina Stingrays. Season memberships are also available for the 2020-21 season. To purchase yours or to get more information, visit wheelingnailers.com or call (304) 234-GOAL. 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.