JACKSONVILLE, FL- Hockey is a game of bounces, and on Friday night, those bounces went to the Jacksonville Icemen at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Wacey Rabbit's eventual game winning goal in the second period bounced in off of a Wheeling skate, and the Nailers had a glorious chance on a loose puck in the slot, but came up empty. Jared Cockrell's first pro goal was the only marker for Wheeling, who fell, 3-1.
The two teams played to a scoreless first period, as they were meeting for just the second time all season. At the 7:19 mark of the middle frame, Jacksonville got on the board first. Abbott Girduckis wheeled his way across the slot and was able to lift a wrist shot under the crossbar with traffic in front of the net. The Icemen got some puck luck later in the stanza, as Wacey Rabbit's cross-ice feed from the left circle bounced off of a Wheeling defender and into the cage. The Nailers responded with their first goal of the night in the final two minutes of the period. Patrick Watling tossed a shot on goal that was stopped by Charles Williams, but the rebound flew into the air where it was batted home by Jared Cockrell for the first goal of his pro career.
Wheeling got some good quality chances as it looked for an equalizer, but unfortunately, that wasn't in the cards. Ara Nazarian iced Jacksonville's 3-1 win with an empty netter in the final minute, after Nick Saracino rushed the puck out of his own end.
Charles Williams backstopped the win for the Icemen, as he turned aside 24 of the 25 shots he faced. Shane Starrett was excellent in goal for the Nailers, as he denied 35 of the 37 shots he faced in the defeat.
The Nailers and Icemen will continue their three-game weekend series in Jacksonville on Saturday at 7:05. Wheeling's next home game is Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Saturday, May 15th against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits 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.