FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers got an emotional victory on Wednesday night in a back-and-forth game against the Fort Wayne Komets at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Wheeling never trailed until the 9:23 mark of the third period, then scored back-to-back goals in the final five minutes of regulation to rally back for the 4-3 road victory, which ended with fireworks. Cody Sylvester led the way with a goal and an assist for the Nailers, including the game winner, while Taran Kozun had a big night in the net with 39 saves.
Thanks to the assistance of three power plays, Fort Wayne had a heavy shots advantage in the first period, but the lone goal in the first period was scored by the Nailers. Joshua Winquist led a rush down the ice, which resulted in Brady Tomlak setting up Nick Rivera for a right side one-timer. Robbie Beydoun made the save, but the puck was battled out by Wheeling for Jesse Lees, who whipped in his ninth goal in 12 games.
The Komets tied the score a couple of times in the middle frame. Justin Vaive got the first equalizer at the 6:29 mark, when he battled a puck free on the right side of center ice, then darted into the offensive zone, where he blazed in a wrist shot. The Nailers got their lead back for a few minutes, as the two sides exchanged power play strikes. Cody Sylvester booted the puck to Tim Doherty behind the net, and Doherty proceeded to wrap in his first professional goal. Alan Lyszczarczyk answered for Fort Wayne, as he whistled in a one-timer from the top of the left circle.
Midway through the third period, the Komets took their first lead of the night. Anthony Nellis dropped a pass off to Marc-Olivier Roy, who roofed a wrist shot from the left circle. Despite the struggles it has had in that building, Wheeling wasn't about to be discouraged, as it scored twice in the last five minutes to rally to victory. Austin Fyten notched the tying goal with 4:36 to go, as he took a centering pass from Joshua Winquist, dragged the puck to his backhand, and slid it home. 2:12 later, the Nailers went ahead for good. Matt Alfaro led a 2-on-1 break down the right side and took a shot, which was stopped, but the rebound went right to Cody Sylvester, who cashed in with his 20th of the year. Wheeling prevented Fort Wayne from pulling its goaltender until 42 seconds remained, then defended the 4-3 score to the finish line.
Taran Kozun played a huge game between the pipes for the Nailers, as he earned the triumph by turning aside 39 of the 42 shots he faced. Robbie Beydoun was on the losing end for the first time in seven pro starts, as he made 23 saves on 27 shots for the Komets.
The Nailers and Komets will meet up in Fort Wayne again on Friday night at 8:00. Wheeling will then return home for Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Saturday at 7:10 against Greenville. The Nailers and Swamp Rabbits will also play at WesBanco Arena 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.