ESTERO, FL- The Wheeling Nailers were as hot as the weather on Wednesday night in Estero, Florida, as they opened up a three-game series against the Florida Everblades at Hertz Arena. Wheeling got goals from six different players, including Michael Joly, who had a three-point night, as the Nailers ended Florida's 11-game home point streak with a 6-2 triumph. Taran Kozun made 26 saves for his first win in a Nailers uniform.
Wheeling had a strong start to the game, as the power play connected for a goal, then set things up for an even strength goal moments after a penalty ended. The power play strike came at the 7:01 mark, when Michael Joly setup Cody Sylvester for a beautiful off-angle redirection from the right side of the net. 4:05 later, the Nailers got another tally with a tip, as Joshua Winquist got a piece of Patrick McNally's left point shot to send the puck into the cage. Florida got on the board just over a minute after that, as Luke Nogard sped up the left side, and wired a slap shot into the top-right corner of the goal.
The Nailers maintained and then extended their lead in the second period. Joly picked up the puck on the left side of the ice, then waltzed his way into the slot, where he slipped a backhander through goaltender Jake Hildebrand. The goal was Joly's third point of the night, and McNally also recorded an assist for his third point of the contest.
The third period featured some exclamation points from the visitors, and it started with both special teams. Sean Josling swung a pass across from circle to circle for Austin Fyten, who whipped in a wrist shot from the left side on the power play. The next goal was setup by Fyten, who dished a pass over to Nick Rivera on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. Joe Pendenza smacked in a power play goal for the Everblades, before former Florida blueliner Adam Smith provided the final dagger for Wheeling with a one-time blast from the left point and a 6-2 score.
Taran Kozun had a terrific performance in his second start as a Nailer, as he stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced, including a game-high 13 in the middle frame. Jake Hildebrand gave up six goals on 33 shots in the loss for Florida.
The Nailers and Everblades will continue their series in the Sunshine State on Friday at 7:30, then wrap things up on Saturday at 7:00. Wheeling's next home game is Thursday, April 1st against the Jacksonville Icemen at 7:10. A limited number of tickets are available for Wheeling Nailers home games, and season memberships and flex packs are also available. 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.