ESTERO, FL- The Wheeling Nailers put forth a tough battle on Friday night, as they were looking for a second straight win against the Florida Everblades at Hertz Arena. However, a three-goal third period by the home squad proved to be the difference, as former Nailer John McCarron notched a goal and two assists, including the game winner for a 5-2 Everblades triumph. Aaron Thow had a goal and an assist for Wheeling.
The lone goal of the first period went to the Nailers, who cashed in for their third power play strike in two games. Austin Fyten got some help from Sean Josling to win a face-off back to Aaron Thow, who let a wrist shot go from the right point. Nick Rivera got a piece of the attempt in front of the cage to collect his fourth power play marker of the year.
Special teams were the story in the middle frame, as all four goals to that point came with a player in the penalty box. Florida knotted things up at the 3:09 mark on the man advantage. Joe Pendenza wheeled a shot on goal from the center point that was stopped by Shane Starrett. However, the rebound went to Michael Huntebrinker, who put it back into the net. The Everblades then had a brief lead, as Logan Roe spun in a shorthanded wrist shot from the high slot. Wheeling responded just 33 seconds later to draw even, when Aaron Thow's shot from the blueline hit a Florida stick and fluttered past his former teammate, Jake Hildebrand.
A little more than six minutes into the third period, the Everblades pulled ahead again, utilizing their power play. Myles Powell got off a shot from the left circle that Starrett denied, but the puck sat in the crease, where it was tapped in by John McCarron. A big moment in the contest took place with under ten minutes to go, when Florida took three straight penalties. The Nailers were unable to cash in to pull even, and 21 seconds after the final one expired, Levko Koper tipped in Stefan LeBlanc's shot for a key insurance marker for the Everblades. Koper tacked on one more into an empty net for a 5-2 final.
Jake Hildebrand got the win for Florida, as he made 22 saves on 24 shots. Shane Starrett turned away 28 of the 32 shots he faced in his return from the AHL for Wheeling.
The Nailers and Everblades will conclude their three-game series on Saturday night at 7:00. Wheeling will then return home to face a different Floridian opponent, as the Jacksonville Icemen make their first ever visit to WesBanco Arena on Thursday 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.