INDIANAPOLIS, IN- The Wheeling Nailers traveled through the snowy weather and spent less than 12 hours in Indianapolis, but that time was well worth it with Sunday's end result. Wheeling came back from a two-goal deficit to knock off the Indy Fuel, 4-3 in overtime on Cody Sylvester's second goal of the afternoon. Patrick Watling assisted on all four Nailers tallies and Hayden Hawkey came off the bench to record his first professional win.
The Nailers outshot Indy, 10-8 during the first period, but the lone goal was scored by a former member of their team. Spencer Watson stole the puck at his own blueline, then led the Fuel on a transition rush in the other direction. Watson fed Jared Thomas, who immediately touched a pass over to Cédric Lacroix, who tapped in the tally as he drove down the left side of the slot.
Wheeling evened things up in the opening minutes of the second stanza, but Indy retook the lead with two goals of their own. The Nailers got their strike from Cody Sylvester, who skated into the left circle and slid a shot in along the ice just 1:08 into the period. Spencer Watson collected both goals for the Fuel. On the first tally, he came off the right wall, then worked into the slot, where he flicked in a backhander. The second marker came on the man advantage, in which Watson's wrist shot from the right side of the high slot flew into the top-right corner. With 50 seconds left in the period, Wheeling goaltender Brandon Halverson left the game with an injury, leading to Hayden Hawkey's season debut between the pipes.
Down, but not out, the Nailers battled back and tied things up with two goals in the first five minutes of period three. Hayden Hodgson brought Wheeling within one at the 2:05 mark, when, with help from Patrick Watling, he was able to squeeze the puck between Dan Bakala and the right post. 3:27 later, Watling made a gorgeous backhand pass from the end wall to set up Joshua Winquist for a one-timer in the low slot.
The teams proceeded to overtime, where Wheeling was able to end Indy's five-game home winning streak and seven-game winning streak after regulation. The Nailers capitalized on an odd-man rush at the 1:42 mark of the extra session, as Watling teed up Sylvester for a one-timer in the right circle to end the contest, 4-3 in Wheeling's favor.
Hayden Hawkey earned his first professional victory, as he was perfect on nine shots in relief of Brandon Halverson, who made 11 saves on 14 shots. Dan Bakala received his first blemish of the season, stopping 26 of the 30 shots he faced in the overtime loss.