WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers put 42 shots on goal on Friday night at WesBanco Arena, as they extended their point streak to five games. Unfortunately, their four-game winning streak came to a conclusion, as the South Carolina Stingrays scored on both of their shots in the shootout to come away with a 3-2 road win. Jesse Lees and Austin Fyten were the two goal scorers for the Nailers against Matt Jurusik, who made 40 saves in his pro debut.
The two teams played to a scoreless first period, despite some strong offensive pressure and a 15-6 shots advantage for Wheeling. The Nailers continued to get their chances in the middle frame, and they got the scoring started with an unconventional goal. Dylan MacPherson floated the puck into the left circle, where goaltender Matt Jurusik dove and missed. That allowed Jesse Lees to wraparound the back of the cage and tuck in his first with his new team against his former squad. Former Stingray Austin Fyten extended the lead just 2:28 later, when he slammed in a tape-to-tape centering pass from Jacob Pritchard at the top of the crease. South Carolina got a goal back on a power play with less than two minutes left. Dan DeSalvo came in on the rush with the puck on his backhand and was able to squib a low shot into the net.
The Stingrays pulled even at the 7:03 mark of the third period. Andrew Cherniwchan won a puck battle in the right corner and dished a pass into the slot for Dylan Steman, who snapped a shot into the left side of the goal. The teams played very defensively in the last half of the stanza, although South Carolina got a glorious chance for a game winner, when Cherniwchan was hooked on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. Shane Starrett flashed the leather with a glove save, which preserved his club a point in a 2-2 deadlock.
Wheeling had the best opportunity in overtime, as the Stingrays took a penalty with under two minutes remaining. However, the Nailers were unsuccessful on their six shots in the extra session, as the contest went to a shootout. Matthew Weis and DeSalvo converted on both attempts for South Carolina, while Austin Fyten and Cody Sylvester came up empty for Wheeling, as the visitors prevailed, 3-2.
Matt Jurusik had a tremendous outing in his first pro game for the Stingrays, as he stopped 40 of the 42 shots he faced in the game, before denying both shootout attempts. Shane Starrett made 25 saves on 27 shots in the game for the Nailers, before South Carolina scored on both shootout shots.
The Nailers and Stingrays will play the middle tilt of their three-game series at WesBanco Arena on Saturday at 7:10, before wrapping things up on Sunday at 4:10. 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.