FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers played three games in three days in three cities this week, and got three wins to show for it. On Saturday night, Wheeling finished the week off in style by winning in a difficult building, as the Nailers ended an 11-game skid at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum against the Fort Wayne Komets. Cody Sylvester's shorthanded goal in the first period broke a 2-2 deadlock and Wheeling never looked back, earning a 6-3 win with 30 saves by Shane Starrett.
The first period was a wild one, as the two teams combined to light the lamp five times. Fort Wayne was first on the board at the 7:48 mark, as Blake Siebenaler converted a one-time pass from Jackson Leef at the top of the right circle. The Nailers answered just 14 seconds later, when Matt Alfaro deposited the rebound of Aaron Thow's initial shot. Wheeling then took the lead at the 11:26 mark. Cody Sylvester whipped a pass to Adam Smith, who immediately fed Joshua Winquist for a tap-in on the left side of the crease. Matt Murphy responded with a stuff shot to pull the Komets even, but with less than one minute remaining in the stanza, the Nailers struck shorthanded to go ahead, 3-2. Alfaro chased down a loose puck on the right side, then setup Sylvester, who touched in the tally from the left side of the crease.
The scoring slowed down a bit in the middle frame, but both teams were able to pot one. Wheeling's marker came off of a turnover, thanks to an aggressive forecheck by Dylan MacPherson. Nick Rivera snatched the loose puck out of the trapezoid and got some help on his wraparound, as Brady Tomlak was credited with the goal. Fort Wayne's tally went to Matthew Boudens, who tipped in a right point wrister by Randy Gazzola.
There could have been a significant turning point in the third period, as the Nailers were forced to kill a major penalty. However, they kept the momentum on their side, as they did it successfully, and that momentum led to a key insurance goal less than a minute later. Sylvester led the rush down the left side, then connected with Patrick Watling, who drove in a one-timer from the right side of the slot. Rivera applied the finishing touches on the 6-3 triumph with an empty netter.
Shane Starrett was the victorious netminder for Wheeling, as he stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced, including 24 of 25 in the final two frames. Dylan Ferguson took the loss for the Komets, allowing four goals on 15 shots, before leaving with an injury. Jeremy Helvig was three-of-four in relief.
The Nailers and Komets will play the back half of their home-and-home series on Wednesday in Wheeling at 7:10. The Nailers will then play a three-game home series against the South Carolina Stingrays on Friday and Saturday at 7:10, then 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.